December 04, 2010
Pitt 28, Cincinnati 10. The early performance of the day? The 20,000 or so miserable fans in Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium who braved a straight up blizzard and a snowball-wielding mascot to watch a 6-5 team defeat a 4-7 team to no particular end. But Pitt running back Dion Lewis' 42-carry, 261-yard, four-touchdown outburst against the Bearcat defense comes in a close second.
All of those numbers are career highs, but more importantly, they might represent a career revival for one of the most disappointing players of the season. Lewis was everybody's All-American this summer after smashing Tony Dorsett's freshman rushing mark with 1,799 yards in 2009, leaving him as the returning leader nationally in yards, carries and 100-yard games.
Instead, it took about three weeks for Lewis to begin yielding carries to fellow sophomore Ray Graham, who outrushed Lewis 492 yards to 143 in September, with three straight 100-yard efforts. Coming into today, Graham was still the Panthers' leading rusher, on almost two full yards more per carry than their forgotten star.
Pitt still has a bowl game to play, and Cincinnati is hardly the last defense you'd expect to get gashed with nothing at stake in Arctic conditions. But the highest single-game rushing total against a Big East defense since 2004 isn't the kind of afternoon fans tend to forget, especially after they'd given up hope after three months of underwhelming returns. The old Dion Lewis is still in there, somewhere. Considering that his previous career highs came in awful weather against Cincinnati last year, maybe Pitt consider renting a snow machine from a ski lodge for every game – either that, or renting the Bearcat D.