PITTSBURGH – After nearly losing the game against Temple last week due to overconfidence, the Huskies made sure that wouldn't be the case again this weekend in their Big East opener.
It certainly wasn't Saturday as UConn steamrolled Pittsburgh, 34-14, at Heinz Field, securing the team's first 4-0 start to the season since the 1997 campaign.
"It was a great team victory today," head coach Randy Edsall said. "To be able to go on the road in the Big East and get a win says a lot."
The last time the Huskies were able to pull off a road win in a Big East game was during the 2004 season, which raised questions as to whether or not UConn would be able to increase its streak with a conference game away from home.
But those questions were answered within the first two minutes as the Huskies scored and never looked back. Pitt quarterback Kevan Smith threw an interception to middle linebacker Danny Lansanah on just the fourth play from scrimmage, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Lou Allen for a 7-0 lead.
Tony Ciaravino then netted a 26-yard field goal at the end of the quarter to push the lead to 10-0 before Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy scored a touchdown with 9:20 remaining in the half to cut the deficit to 10-7.
UConn began to pull away at that point, rallying behind seven consecutive completions from Lorenzen and a second touchdown run from Allen for a 24-7 lead. When it appeared the score was set for halftime, Smith was hit by defensive end Julius Williams, causing a fumble that recovered by Robert McClain with 17 seconds left in the half. Ciaravino then made his second field goal, a 39-yard try, for a 27-7 lead at the break.
Edsall was especially pleased with the way Lorenzen reacted to the Pitt touchdown, bouncing back from a sack that set up a second-and-24 situation by hitting wide receiver D.J. Hernandez in stride for a 29-yard gain and moving from there.
"That was big," Edsall said. "When they went down and made it 10-7 and we went right back down and answered it to make it 17-7, I thought that was huge for our team."
While Pittsburgh figured it had made the necessary adjustments during the half, including inserting true freshman quarterback Pat Bostick into the lineup for the first time in his young college career, the Huskies proved that was not the case. Rob Lunn sacked Bostick in his first drop back in the pocket for a nine-yard loss and continued to pressure the rookie.
"You love it whenever they switch quarterbacks, because to me, that's a sign of respect that the defense is doing something right," said defensive tackle Dan Davis. "Once they got [him] in there, we turned it up a notch. We were like, 'It's fresh meat in there, let's get it.'"
Bostick contributed to the UConn offense when he threw an interception to linebacker Lawrence Wilson with 13:28 left in the fourth quarter, giving the Huskies a 34-7 lead. But he responded with a touchdown of his own to Oderick Turner to cap a 10-play, 86-yard Pitt drive in the fourth quarter.
Bostick, who finished 27-for-41 with 230 yards, the touchdown and three interceptions, also gave up an interception in the final seconds to UConn safety Robert Vaughn in the end zone to wrap up the game.
Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt said the decision to play Bostick in the second half was made just before halftime, while Smith did not see action during the rest of the game due to a hyperextended elbow.
The defense was not only tough on Smith, sacking him twice and forcing him to complete only 3-of-9 passes, but it was especially stingy on the rest of the team, holding Pitt to 0-for-7 on third-down conversions before McCoy picked up the first down on a four-yard rush on third-and-1. The unit also held the Panthers to 72 yards rushing and forced them to commit six turnovers.
Lorenzen finished 12-of-25 with 174 yards passing and a net gain of 50 yards rushing. Running back Donald Brown had 53 rushing yards for UConn, while Pitt's duo of McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling combined for 86 yards.
Zac Boyer covers UConn sports for Rivals.com. He can now be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.