If anyone deserved to have a breakout game against the No. 13 team in the country, if anyone deserved to stick it to his critics, it was surely Tino Sunseri.
Pitt's three-year starting quarterback has been maligned throughout his career, with former coach Todd Graham perhaps the biggest public critic of all. Graham's option-read, shotgun offense never really fit Sunseri's style, and a return to the pro attack under Paul Chryst figured to produce better results this season.
It took two weeks later than expected, but Sunseri delivered Saturday against Virginia Tech, completing 19 of 28 passes for 283 yards for three touchdowns and an interception en route to a 35-17 win as surprising as any result from Week 3.
"He has a respect in that locker room that is unwavering," fifty-year center Ryan Turnley said of Sunseri. "For him to go out there and perform like that, you can’t feel any better about anything."
The Panthers racked up 537 yards of total offense against a stout Hokies defense. Sunseri, who played with a bad ankle, was sacked just once. (By comparison, Cincinnati got to Sunseri six times a week earlier.)
Many were calling for Sunseri's benching entering this past weekend. Pitt was 0-2, with one of those losses a double-digit home loss to FCS Youngstown State in the opener. But the fifth-year senior responded with a statement performance against the Hokies, and now the Panthers may have something to build on early in the season.