Pitt's Conner Runs Away With MVP In Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
By James Ferguson
Pitt's true freshman running back James Conner rushed for 229 yards in the Panthers' 30-27 win against Bowling Green in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
Conner, who also played some defensive end during the game, broke Tony Dorsett's rushing record for a bowl game. Dorsett set the previous mark of 202 rushing yards in the 1977 Sugar Bowl against Georgia. Conner averaged 8.8 yards per carry and had a 15-yard rushing touchdown to add to a tremendous night. For a team that averages about 125 rushing yards per game, the bowl performance put up by Conner was a top highlight for the Panthers this season.
Conner finished just one yard shy of 800 total rushing yards this season, while adding eight touchdowns. He became Pitt's leading rusher in the bowl game, which shows promise for the Panthers next season. Conner rushed for 165 yards in the second half against the Falcons defense, which led him to bowl MVP honors.
With their win against Bowling Green, the Panthers finished above .500 with an overall record of 7-6 under second-year head coach, Paul Chryst. Conner did steal the show by breaking Dorsett's record, but another Pitt true freshman set his own mark. Tyler Boyd broke Larry Fitzgerald's school record for freshman recieving yards, which Fitzgerald set in 2002.
Chrsyt should be pleased about next season as he will return with young stars such as Conner, Boyd, Manasseh Garner and quarterback Chad Voytik, who filled in for injured quarterback Tom Savage. The Panthers finished with a strong bowl win to complete their inagural season in the ACC and will look to return to prominence in college football.