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Pitt beats WVU, zebras
December 1, 2007 - Neil Rudel
I almost never wonder about a fix, but the officiating in the Pitt-West Virginia game Saturday night, won by the Panthers 13-9, raised concerns.
Pitt had a late touchdown taken away on a holding penalty -- allegedly -- by a wide receiver, and then had a late first down taken away on the same call.
Holding penalties on wide receivers are often questionable; Joe Paterno, in his seemingly endless array of excuses, is still brooding about the one at Michigan that cost the Lions a red-zone opportunity.
The Panthers then had a celebration called after holding the Mountaineers on downs, though the penalty didn't end up costing Pitt.
Clearly, the Big East would have benefitted more if one of its teams had been in the national title game -- an opportunity WVU has now lost.
Whether the late calls raised suspicions or not, there's no question the system and the lack of a true playoff puts pressure on officials to favor the conference team that has a chance to play for it all over the conference team fighting to finish 5-7.
At least the officiating Saturday night appeared that way.
One thing that wasn't in question was this: Pitt totally deserved to win and delivered the best performance of Dave Wannstedt's tenure.