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December 8, 2013

Pitt is going to Detroit

Pitt's 2013 season will end in Detroit, as the Athletic Department announced Sunday night that the Panthers will face Bowling Green in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl at Ford Field.

The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. (EST) kickoff on Thursday, Dec. 26.

"We are very pleased to have this opportunity for Coach (Paul) Chryst and our team to play in another bowl game," athletic director Steve Pederson said. "The location and the date are ideal for Pitt fans to be able to enjoy being a part of the bowl experience. A bowl appearance is significant in many ways, especially as Coach Chryst continues to build this program toward our next championship. We are grateful to the people of Detroit for making this possible. We will have an excited team arriving in Detroit for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl."

Pitt is 12-17 all-time in bowl games, and the selection marks the team's sixth consecutive bowl appearance. The Panthers have won two of the previous five bowl games. This will be their first bowl game not played in Birmingham, Ala., since the team played in Charlotte following the 2009 season.

Pitt has never appeared in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl (formerly the Motor City Bowl), which has been in existence since 1997. The Panthers are the first ACC team to play in the bowl, although future conference member Louisville did appear in the 1998 game (the Cardinals lost to Marshall that year).

Bowling Green has made one appearance in the game, beating Northwestern 28-24 in 2003.

The home of the NFL's Detroit Lions, Ford Field has a capacity of 65,000. The 2007 game between Central Michigan and Purdue set the bowl's record of 60,624. Pitt has played five games in the state of Michigan all-time; the Panthers have lost all five (0-2 at Michigan, 0-3 at Michigan State).

Pitt has faced Bowling Green three times. The series started in 1999 with a 30-10 Pitt victory and a 34-16 Panthers' win the following season. The two teams last met in 2008, when the Panthers suffered a rather ignominious 27-17 loss in the season opener.

Pitt is coming off its third consecutive 6-6 regular season after losing the season finale against Miami at Heinz Field last week. In each of the last two seasons, the Panthers finished the regular season 6-6 and lost the bowl game for a 6-7 record.

Bowling Green is looking to cap a 10-3 regular season that included a 47-27 blowout win over Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game Friday night. The Falcons are led by former Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt quarterback Matt Johnson, who threw for 3,195 yards and 23 touchdowns this season and dropped 393 yards and five touchdowns on NIU in the MAC title game.

The Falcons faced two teams from BCS conferences this season, and both were losses. Bowling Green suffered a 42-10 loss at Indiana (final record: 5-7) in mid-September and was on the losing end of a 21-20 decision at Mississippi State (final record: 6-6) a month later. The Falcons' other loss came in a 28-25 defeat at the hands of Toledo on Oct. 26, which was also their only MAC loss. Bowling Green didn't lose again after that game and held each of its final four regular-season opponents - Miami (OH), Ohio, Eastern Michigan and Buffalo - to seven points or less.

"We're excited for the chance to play in another game against such a quality opponent," head coach Paul Chryst said in a press release. "Bowling Green was impressive not only in their MAC Championship win, but all season long and we have a competitive game of football ahead. We are grateful to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and the City of Detroit for offering us this opportunity."

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