Pittsburgh vs Eastern Michigan
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, December 26, 2019
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
QUICK LANE BOWL STORYLINES
- Coaches looking for their first bowl wins at their respective schools meet in the sixth annual Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit when Pittsburgh faces Eastern Michigan. Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi is 0-3 in bowls in his four seasons at the helm, while Eagles head man Chris Creighton is 0-2 in five seasons but has taken the school to half of its four all-time bowls. Pitt and Eastern Michigan have played twice before, with the Panthers prevailing 27-3 in 2007 and 66-30 in 1995.
- When the Panthers defeated North Carolina in overtime on Nov. 14, they still had a nine-win season in their sights and an outside chance at the Orange Bowl. However, their hopes were dashed after being shut out 28-0 by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. and losing to Boston College in the regular-season finale. Ford Field is the site of Pitt’s last bowl win, a 30-27 victory over Bowling Green in the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl behind James Conner’s 229 yards rushing.
- Eastern Michigan’s third bowl in four years concludes a four-year run in which the program has won 25 games – most since the team won 29 times from 1986-89 and just two victories shy of the program’s total from 2000-10. The Eagles already have a win over a Big Ten team this season, a 34-31 triumph against bowl-bound Illinois on Sept. 14. Creighton’s first two teams went a combined 3-21 but the former quarterback at Kenyon College righted the ship and has gone 25-25 the last four years, including wins over Purdue (2018) and Rutgers (2017) in addition to Illinois.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Pittsburgh -11
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (7-5): The Panthers opened up the offense in 2019 after relying on the run the previous three seasons, and second-year starter Kenny Pickett threw for 2,737 yards – including four 300-yard efforts – but only managed 10 touchdown passes against nine interceptions in 430 attempts. His favorite target was Maurice Ffrench, a third-team All-ACC selection who averages 8.4 receptions per contest – tops in the ACC and third nationally – and needs just eight catches to reach Larry Fitzgerald’s school-record of 92 set in 2003. Pitt’s defense ranked 31st in scoring defense (21.8 points per game) and is led by All-ACC first team performers defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman (10.5 sacks, most by a Pitt DT since Aaron Donald had 11 in 2013) and safety Paris Ford (team-high 86 tackles, three interceptions, 14 passes defensed and three forced fumbles).
ABOUT EASTERN MICHIGAN (6-6): Senior Mike Glass III accounted for 3,203 yards of total offense and 29 touchdowns, completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,858 yards and 22 TDs with 10 interceptions. His main targets are Dylan Drummond (51 catches, 483, yards, three touchdowns), Quian Williams (50, 593, five) and Arthur Jackson III (39, 679, six). Defensively, the Eagles yielded 30.3 points per game, but got 116 tackles from linebacker Kobie Beltram, 97 more from defensive back Vince Calhoun and 75 tackles along with four interceptions from defensive back Brody Hoying.