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Big East matchup loses its luster

The game loomed large before the football season began.

Thursday night. National television. Defending Big East Conference champion Pittsburgh against league newcomer Louisville, the team picked ahead of the Panthers as the league favorite.

The game won't be the marquee matchup many expected. Losses by No. 24 Louisville (5-2, 1-2 Big East) and Pitt (4-4, 3-1) have taken some of the luster off, but tonight's game at Louisville still has bowl implications for both teams.

Pitt lost its first three games -- including a 16-10 overtime stunner against Ohio -- under new coach Dave Wannstedt en route to a 1-4 start. The Panthers since have rebounded with three straight league wins

Louisville lost its first two league games to South Florida (45-14) and West Virginia (46-44 in three overtimes), which effectively took the Cardinals out of the Big East race. Louisville bounced back from to record its first league win, thumping Cincinnati, 46-22, Oct. 22.

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