2009 record: 10-3, 7-2 (2nd-tie in Big East)
2009 bowl: Beat North Carolina 19-17 in Meineke Car Care
2009 final AP/coaches' ranking: 15/15
Coach: Dave Wannstedt 35-26 (6th year)
Offensive coordinator: Frank Cignetti, Jr. (2nd year)
Defensive coordinator: Phil Bennett (3rd year)
Returning offensive starters: 5
Returning defensive starters: 6
Stadium: Heinz Field (grass; 65,050 capacity)
Last league title: 2004 (tie)
2010 schedule: [view]
2010 roster: [view]
2009 statistics: [view]
Offensive: Dion Lewis (1,799 yards, 17 touchdowns) was one of the best freshman running backs in recent history. Now he will be one of the nation’s best. Lewis is clearly the man to watch in Pittsburgh’s offense. It won’t be a one-man show. Sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri has just 17 career pass attempts, but he will benefit from a pair of tall, physical receivers. Junior Jonathan Baldwin is a marvelous talent — 6-foot-5 with a 42-inch vertical jump, along with 4.38 speed in the 40-yard dash. The other starter, sophomore Mike Shanahan, also is 6-5. There are three new starters on the offensive line, but no question marks at tackle, where senior Jason Pinkston and junior Lucas Nix comprise the Big East’s best bookend tandem.
Defensive: Pittsburgh has developed enviable depth on the defensive line, giving it the ability to mix and match players, while staying strong throughout the season. The Panthers will again be formidable up front, led by senior Greg Romeus, an NFL-ready prospect who had eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss last season, and senior Jabaal Sheard. Two starting linebackers return, but new middle linebacker Dan Mason, a sophomore, has the best potential of all. The Panthers return both safeties, sophomore Jarred Holley and senior Dom DeCicco.
Specialists: Senior Dan Hutchins did nice work last season (making 23 of 29 field-goal attempts as a place-kicker and averaging 41.1 yards as a punter). Sophomore Cameron Saddler averaged 25.3 yards on kickoff returns.
Coaching: For Dave Wannstedt, the building process has been methodical and often frustrating. But he appears to have Pittsburgh back on the right track. After a few seasons of standout recruiting, the talent level of the program is the highest in at least a decade.
Heisman hopefuls: Lewis might be Pittsburgh’s most dynamic back since Tony Dorsett. He’s certainly on this season’s short list and could be positioning himself nicely for 2011.
Next up: No. 15 North Carolina
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
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Penn State football coach and 2012 National Coach of the Year shares the challenges in turning around a program shattered by scandal. Real Sports premieres Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
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