One of Matt Rotheram’s highlights this season was his University of Pittsburgh team defeated Notre Dame.
Rotheram, a 2010 North Olmsted graduate, will add to his last memories when he starts at right guard for the Panthers against Bowling Green State University in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl today.
“It means a lot to play another game with my teammates,” Rotheram said. “We take every game serious. We know Bowling Green is a good football team. They were conference champions in the MAC, so we know it’s going to be challenging. We look forward to it.
“The main goal is for us to just win and end the season with a winning record. We’re 6-6 right now and a win would put us at 7-6, which sounds a whole lot better than 6-7.”
Pittsburgh’s season didn’t go as well as Rotheram and his teammates hoped, but a 28-21 win over Notre Dame stands out as a highlight this year. A 58-55 win over Duke was also very memorable.
“The win over Notre Dame was an exciting win for us,” Rotheram said. “It’s always good to go out there and beat Notre Dame. I think that was the turning point to our season. We became bowl eligible after that, so that was big.
“The Duke game was a wild one. Their offense kept scoring and we had to keep coming back and answer every score. We played them really well. We had to keep fighting the whole game. At the time, we didn’t realize they’d end up playing in the ACC championship game.”
Rotheram, who wears No. 74, will have plenty of support at the game. He says his whole family, along with his friends and his high school football coaches will be in attendance.
The 6-foot-6, 340-pound junior started all 12 games at right guard this season after starting 12 games at right tackle last year. He started the BBVA Compass Bowl against Ole Miss at right guard last season, due to injuries, and hasn’t been moved back since.
His first active season came in 2011, when he played in eight games, including two starts. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending left ankle fracture in a game against Connecticut that ended his red-shirt freshman season.
“It was tough because I was young,” Rotheram said. “I started my first game, but when it came to my second, I broke my ankle in the second quarter. I could’ve started some more games and gotten more experience. That hurt me. I had two ankle surgeries and started rehabbing it. I worked through it and came back to play better than ever the next season.”
At North Olmsted, Rotheram earned All-Ohio, All-District and All-Southwestern Conference honors. He was a three-year starter, who had more than 120 pancake blocks during his career. He was rated as one of nation’s top 30 offensive guard prospects by Scout and Rivals during his senior year for the Eagles.