SMU Dominates Pitt 28-6, Wins 2012 Compass Bowl

SMU is playing in their third straight bowl game for the first time since the 1982-84 seasons.

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SMU Mustangs Win 2012 Compass Bowl 28-6 Over Pitt

For the second time in three years, the SMU Mustangs have won a bowl game. SMU defeated Pittsburgh 28-6 on Saturday, winning the 2012 Compass Bowl easily.

The game was never in question, as SMU jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead. J.J. McDermott hooked up with wide receiver Darius Johnson on a 50 yard touchdown pass, giving SMU an early 7-0 lead. McDermott would add a touchdown on a QB-sneak, extending SMU's lead to 14-0. Rishad Wimbley also added a touchdown run of his own in the first quarter, giving SMU a commanding 21-0 lead before the second quarter got underway.

McDermott finished the day 16-of-25 passing for 240 yards, with a touchdown pass and rush. Wimbley added a second touchdown run in the third quarter.

All was not perfect for SMU on Saturday, though, as freshman running back Jared Williams suffered a broken femur. The injury was fairly grotesque, and Williams, obviously, needed to be carted off the field.

SMU's defense was excellent, holding the Panthers to just seven rushing yards for the entire game, while forcing two turnovers.

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2012 Compass Bowl: SMU Leads Pitt 21-3 At Half

Despite being an underdog, the SMU Mustangs have come out strong in the first half of the 2012 Compass Bowl. SMU currently leads Pittsburgh 21-3 at halftime, as the Mustangs look for their second bowl win in the last three years.

SMU quarterback J.J. McDermott has played well in the first half, completing nine of 15 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. Darius Johnson was the recipient of McDermott's lone touchdown pass, as he and his quarterback hooked up for a 50 yard touchdown, giving SMU a 7-0 lead.

McDermott would then add a touchdown on a one yard quarterback sneak, putting the Mustangs up 14-0. Rishad Wimbley also rushed for a touchdown in the waning moments of the first quarter, giving SMU a commanding 21-0 lead.

Unfortunately for SMU, the Mustangs wouldn't score in the second quarter. Pittsburgh put three points on the board early in the second quarter when Kevin Harper kicked a 32 yard field goal, cutting SMU's lead to 21-3.

While the Mustangs are up by 18, there's still plenty to improve on in the second half. SMU's running game has been essentially nonexistent, as Jared Williams and Rishad Wimbley have a combined 10 rushes for 32 yards. The Mustangs are also a mere two-for-five on third down conversions in the first half.

Defensively, SMU has done an excellent job shutting Pittsburgh down, holding the Panthers to three points while forcing two turnovers. SMU has held Pittsburgh to a mere nine rushing yards on 16 carries as well.

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SMU Vs. Pitt, 2012 Compass Bowl: Time, Location, History And Two Star Running Backs Missing

The 2012 Compass Bowl was supposed to feature two of the best running backs in America, but due to injuries the fans will be cheated from watching Ray Graham and Zach Line run the ball up and down the field.

The Pitt Panthers will play their fifth consecutive game without the dynamic Ray Graham, whose 939 rushing yards accounted for 85 percent of Pitt's rushing yardage after seven games. SMU will square off against Pitt without their workhorse running back Zach Line. Line garnered first team All-Conference USA despite missing SMU's last two regular-season games. In 2010, Line's 1,494 rushing yards were the second best single-season total in school history. Only Hall-of-Famer Eric Dickerson's 1,617 yards in 1982 topped Line's total.

Get ready for Tino Sunseri versus J.P. McDermott to air it out, as the Panthers try to give the Big East a 5-1 record this bowl season.

Game date, time:
Noon CT, Saturday, January 7th

Location: Legion Field, Birmingham, AL

TV channel: ESPN/ESPN3

2010 winner and loser: Pitt, Kentucky

For more on the game and Pitt, check out SB Nation blog Cardiac Hill. For more college football news, check out SB Nation's college football news hub.

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SMU vs. Pittsburgh: Mustangs' A.D. 'Optimistic' Program Can Move On From June Jones' Arizona State Incident

Speaking with the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, Southern Methodist athletic director Steve Orsini acknowledged the "process" developing to smooth tensions between the program and current head coach June Jones, who was all but gone to Arizona State in December before a bizarre, last minute withdrawal of a contract offer from the Sun Devils.

Jones has re-committed publicly to SMU, but obviously some ill will from fans and alumni exist. Orsini commented on the path towards reconciliation:

"Is it completed? No," Orsini said. "But we work on it every day. ... I'm very optimistic, but it is a process."

Orsini credited Jones' willingness to address questions and his public recommitment to SMU for the ability to turn the page. Orsini said he and Jones regularly discuss the issue and hope to turn it into something positive.

It's crucial as SMU hopes to build attendance and the program.

"We need to send the right message to fans," Orsini said. "We need their support, we can't do this in a vacuum."

Orsini also told the Morning News that no talks had occurred since the Arizona State incident regarding a change to Jones' contract with the Mustangs, which was extended following the 2010 season.

For more college football news, check out SB Nation's college football news hub.

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Compass Bowl Odds: SMU Is A 5-Point Underdog

In a match-up of two teams who have spent most of the last month engulfed in coaching turmoil, 7-5 SMU is a +5 point underdog to 6-6 Pittsburgh in the 2011 BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama on Jan. 7.

June Jones, SMU's fourth-year head coach, was reportedly en route to Arizona State before the Sun Devils had a last-second change of heart, hiring former Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham instead.

Graham's departure in the dark of night, as he informed his player over text message that he was leaving, did not sit well with many in the Pittsburgh football program that has had a nearly unprecedented run on the head coaching carousel over the last 12 months.

Pittsburgh fired Dave Wannsted at the end of the 2010 regular season, with interim coach Phil Bennett (now at Baylor) taking over to win last season's Compass Bowl. They hired Michael Haywood in late December, before being forced to fire him after he received a felony domestic violence charge two weeks later.

Now, with Graham's departure, the Panthers will be coached by defensive coordinator Kevin Patterson before former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst takes over after the bowl game, giving the Pittsburgh players six different head coaches in less than 14 months.

Lost amidst the coaching turmoil in Pittsburgh was the Panthers disappointing 6-6 season, as they beat only one BCS team with a winning record -- 7-6 Louisville.

SMU, in contrast, continued on their upwards trajectory under Jones, defeating arch-rival and national power TCU on the road in a thrilling 40-33 OT shootout.

Statistically, the two teams are fairly similar, with the Mustangs ranking 70th in the country total offense and 52nd in total defense, while Pittsburgh checks in with the 69th rated offense and the 34th rated defense.

With both programs dealing with off-the-field issues while playing in a non-traditional location very late into the bowl season, whichever team feels more motivation to play might have a decisive edge.

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