Pittsburgh's heartbreaking 45-44 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday could be the Papajohns.com Bowl's gain.
South Carolina (7-5) could face the Panthers (9-3) in the Jan. 2 game in Birmingham.
An official with the Meineke Car Car Bowl, which picks ahead of the Papajohns.com Bowl on the Big East side, told The Newark Star-Ledger today the Charlotte bowl has narrowed its choices to Pitt and Rutgers.
Rutgers played in the Papajohns.com Bowl last year. If Charlotte picks the Scarlet Knights, Papajohns.com officials are expected to match Pitt against the Gamecocks.
No. 15 Pitt was 9-1 and No. 9 in the country two weeks ago before dropping back-to-back games to West Virginia and the fifth-ranked Bearcats. A botched extra point in the fourth quarter proved costly to the Panthers.
Pitt is expected to fall to the Big East's No. 4 bowl game in part because the Gator Bowl wants to match West Virginia and Florida State in the final game for Bobby Bowden, the former Mountaineers coach.
USC is 1-3 overall against Pitt, including a 37-9 loss to the Panthers in the 1980 Gator Bowl. The teams have not met since 1985.