Pitt rolls South Florida to become bowl eligible

TAMPA, Fla. -- Ray Graham rushed for a pair of touchdowns

and went over 1,000 yards Saturday night to help Pittsburgh become

bowl eligible with a 27-3 rout of struggling South Florida.

Tino Sunseri threw for 211 yards and one TD for the Panthers

(6-6, 3-4 Big East) to join Graham in giving Pitt a 3,000-yard

passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season for the first time

in school history.

USF (3-9, 1-6) finished its second straight losing season by

losing nine of 10 after a 2-0 start, a slide that could cost

coach Skip Holtz his job. A year ago, the Bulls dropped seven of

eight after a 4-0 start that vaulted them into the Top 25

before a 44-17 loss to Pitt.

Graham scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, Sunseri tossed a 2-yard

TD pass to J.P. Holtz, and a Pitt defense that's allowed just nine

points the past two weeks held USF 117 yards and forced four

turnovers, including three interceptions of Matt Floyd in the

redshirt freshman's second career start.

Pitt bounced back from losing its first two games to Youngstown

State and Cincinnati to qualify for a postseason berth for the

fifth straight season. Along the way, the Panthers gave top-ranked

Notre Dame its toughest test before losing in triple overtime. They

also rebounded from a disappointing loss to Connecticut to upset

Rutgers 21-6 and put themselves in a position to extend their first

season under coach Paul Chryst.

Despite forcing turnovers on the Bulls' first three possessions

of the game, Pitt only led 13-0 at the half. Jason Hendricks'

interception and 10-yard return to the USF 21 set up Graham's TD

and a sack-fumble led to Kevin Harper's 25-yard field goal early in

the second quarter.

USF failed to take advantage of Marcus Shaw's long kickoff

return to the Pitt 48 when Floyd was intercepted for the second

time after moving his team to third-and-goal at the Panthers 5.

Linebacker Todd Thomas broke on a throw intended for Demetris

Murray and returned the pick 33 yards up the left sideline.

Sunseri extended his streak of consecutive passing attempts

without an interception to 270. However, Pitt failed to establish

much of a rhythm on offense before getting in the end zone twice

within a five-minute stretch of the third quarter. Graham's second

TD put the Panthers up by 20, and Sunseri's 19th TD pass of the

season made it 27-0.

USF fell to 16-21 under Holtz, who led the Bulls to an 8-5

record and their sixth consecutive bowl trip two years ago. He

inherited a program built from scratch with expectations of

contending for Big East titles, but has gone 5-16 in the


An announced crowd of 35,141 that appeared much smaller booed

when USF's career scoring leader Maikon Bonani trotted onto the

field to kick a 25-yard field goal to avert a shutout.

Sunseri finished 19 of 25 and boosted his season passing total

to 3,103. Graham gained 94 yards on 26 carries, topping 1,000

rushing for the first time in his career early in the second half

and ending the night with 1,042.

Pitt beat USF for the fifth straight season and has won the past

two contests by a combined score of 71-20 - 51-3 over the past six

quarters of those meetings.

Floyd completed 12 of 25 passes for 93 yards. The Bulls were

held to 8 yards rushing.