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June 4, 2013
The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 90 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.
Today's number is 90, so we're looking at the four instances of "9-0" in Pitt history.
The first time 9-0 appears in Pitt football was 1910, when the Panthers put together one of the great seasons in the history of organized football. Not only did the 1910 Pitt football team go 9-0, but the Panthers did not allow their opponents to score a single point all season; Ohio Northern (36-0), Westminster (18-0), Waynesburg (42-0), Georgetown (17-0), Ohio (71-0), West Virginia (38-0), W&J (14-0), Carnegie Tech (35-0) and Penn State (11-0) combined to allow Pitt to score 282 points while never registering a point against the Panthers.
In his third year as head coach, Joseph Thompson led Pitt to a truly perfect season at 9-0 with no points allowed. Only 10 teams since 1900 have put together undefeated/un-scored-upon seasons with at least nine wins:
Michigan - 11-0 in 1901
Nebraska - 10-0 in 1902
South Dakota - 10-0 in 1902
Saint Louis - 11-0 in 1904
Yale - 10-0 in 1909
Illinois - 9-0 in 1910
Pitt - 9-0 in 1910
Texas A&M - 10-0 in 1919
Colgate - 9-0 in 1932
Grambling State - 9-0 in 1942
(While the true perfect season is incredibly rare, it's interesting that it happened twice in 1910).
The next instance of 9-0 in Pitt history came 23 years later at the start of Jock Sutherland's 10th season as head coach. The Panthers entered 1933 fresh off a 35-0 loss to USC in the previous season's Rose Bowl, but that was Pitt's only loss of 1932, and the team carried its regular-season success over to 1933 with another eight-win season.
The Panthers were a dominant defensive team in 1933, allowing just 13 points to be scored by opponents all season while pitching shutouts in six of eight games. The only points came in a 34-6 win over Navy and a 7-3 loss at Minnesota, the only game Pitt lost that season. The schedule opened with a home game against W&J, and Pitt started things off with the first 9-0 game in school history.
Two years later, the Panthers did it again; this time it was a 9-0 win over Penn State at Pitt Stadium. Pitt has not played in a 9-0 game since 1935.
The final time 9-0 appears in the Pitt record books was 1937, the penultimate season of Sutherland's tenure as head coach at Pitt, although the 9-0 designation comes with a caveat. That season, Pitt registered nine victories - including a 10-0 season-ending win at 2013 opponent Duke - and did not record a loss. But the Panthers did get caught in a 0-0 tie at Fordham in mid-October, the third of three consecutive 0-0 ties between Pitt and Fordham.
So Pitt's record for 1937 is actually 9-0-1, but it includes the relevant 9-0, so we'll include it.
Sutherland's Panthers posted just one loss in each of six consecutive seasons from 1931-36; in 1937 they went 9-0-1, and in 1938 - Sutherland's final season - Pitt went 8-2 for an astonishing 64-8-6 record over an eight-year span.
Countdown: 91 - The two longest plays in Pitt history
Countdown: 92 - The senior year of the most productive QB in Pitt history
Countdown: 93 - The only 9-3 season in Pitt history
Countdown: 94 - The statistical oddity of 1994
Countdown: 95 - A relentless player and his dominant season
Countdown: 96 - The biggest win in Pitt history
Countdown: 97 - A dominant current Panther
Countdown: 98 - A transition year
Countdown: 99 - Hugh Green
Countdown: 100 - A look at Pitt in 1913