The good and bad of Pitt’s inclusion in the 60 best games of the 2000s

The 2021 season has undoubtedly been the pinnacle of Pitt football in the past 40 years, let alone the turn of the century, but ESPN’s Bill Connelly did not rank any of last season’s games in the top 60 best of the 2000s.

However, Pitt had two of his ranked games on the list – a very, very memorable night in Morgantown in 2007 and a heartbreaking afternoon at Heinz Field in 2009.

No. 31 – Pitt: 13, West Virginia: 9; December 1, 2009


There’s probably nothing else to say. This score will forever link the two bitter rivals, even after the games are over. And with the Backyard Brawl resuming in 2022, 13-9 will surely do the trick.

Connelly ranked the 2007 Pitt-WVU match as the 31st best match of the 2000s, writing:

“Toward the end of the craziest season of our lives, it looked like we might have a Missouri-West Virginia national title game. But Mizzou was kicked out of the Alamodome by Oklahoma late in the Big 12 championship game, and WVU, a four-touchdown favorite over rival Pitt, forgot how to move the ball. Pitt has held the Mountaineers to 183 total yards — with the help of quarterback Pat White’s dislocated thumb — and in his last three drives, West Virginia has lost a fumble and turned the ball over twice. Somehow, Pitt held on for an all-time upset.

No. 13 – Cincinnati: 45, Pitt: 44; December 5, 2009

During Frank Cignetti Jr.’s first term as Pitt’s offensive coordinator, he had Pitt’s offense at one of its highest levels since the turn of the century.

Against No. 5 Cincinnati, former Pitt star Dion Lewis rushed for 194 yards and three touchdowns and Jon Baldwin had 113 receiving yards and two touchdowns en route to 44 points. But late-game heroism from Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard helped the Bearcats win 45-44 after a 29-yard touchdown with less than 30 seconds left and a successful extra run.

Connelly ranked the 2009 Cincy-Pitt game as the 13th best game of the 2000s, writing:

“With Cincinnati positioning themselves for a national title shot and Pitt aiming for his first top 10 since 1982, these River City rivals put on a show in the snow.

“Pitt had a 24-point second quarter for a 31-10 lead, but two huge plays from the immortal Mardy Gilyard – a 98-yard punt return and a 68-yard reception – got the Bearcats back in the game . They tied it at 38-38 late, but Pitt responded with a touchdown from Dion Lewis with 1:36 left … and mishandled the snap on the extra point. It opened the door for Cincinnati to win the game when Tony Pike threw a perfect 29-yard touchdown pass to Armon Binns who the umpires hadn’t given a second back in the Texas-Nebraska game (see # 37 above), would have sent the Bearcats to the BCS Championship Game.

Connelly’s Top 5 Games of the 2000s included: No. 1: USC-Texas in 2006, No. 2: Georgia-Oklahoma in 2018, No. 3 Auburn-Alabama in 2013, No. 4: Auburn and Georgia and No. ° 5: Texas-Texas Tech in 2008.

Comments are closed.