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Bowl Week Begins for the Panthers

Quarterback Tino Sunseri scampers during Tuesday's practice in Birmingham.

Quarterback Tino Sunseri scampers during Tuesday's practice in Birmingham.

Jan. 3, 2012

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Following a well-deserved break for the holidays, the Pitt football team returned to Pittsburgh on Monday to resume preparations for their January 7 contest against SMU in the 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl. The Panthers held practice on Monday and boarded a charter jet bound for Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday morning. Upon their arrival, the Panthers didn't waste any time getting back to work.

After they got settled in their hotel rooms and ate lunch, players entered meetings and were bussed to practice shortly thereafter. The Panthers' practices will be held at Hoover High School's Buccaneer Stadium, located only a short drive from the team hotel. To go along with their outstanding facilities, Hoover has garnered national acclaim for its football tradition. The Buccaneers have won eight state championships, including six since the year 2000. The Pitt players are quite privy to this history. Many of them have seen Hoover football documented on the MTV television show "Two-A-Days."

Once the pads were put on, however, it was just another "day at the office" for the Panthers. Today marked the first of Pitt's four practice sessions in Birmingham before they square off against SMU on Saturday. Each is crucial in the Panthers' preparation for game day. For the seniors, this is their last week as Pitt football players. They want to cap their careers the right way. The BBVA Compass Bowl is this team's opportunity to finish the season with a victory, send their seniors out on a high note and ride a positive wave into the offseason.

The primary focus of this trip is to win a football game, but the Panthers will get to enjoy themselves a bit in Birmingham. With events and activities planned for them each day, there will hardly be a dull moment for them. That is what makes a bowl experience special - being with your teammates, enjoying one another and getting the chance to play one more game, together.