Pittsburgh: The Panthers are coming off a bye week. In their last game against Virginia on September 28, the Panthers walked away with a 14-3 win. Neither team was able to move the ball much, both falling short of 200 yards on the day. But for a Pittsburgh defense that had just allowed 500+ yards to Duke, it was a welcome sign. The Panthers jumped out to an early lead midway through the first on a 6-yard James Conner run. They doubled that margin exactly three minutes later on a 15-yard pass from Tom Savage to Devin Street. The visiting Cavaliers would not get on the board until the waning minutes of the third quarter when they kicked a field goal to make it 14-3. Neither team scored in the game's final frame. Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage left the game with a concussion, but prior to his exit passed for 191 yards on 13-31 passing with a touchdown and 2 interceptions. Tyler Boyd led the Panthers in receiving with 111 yards on 7 catches. Devin Street also had 58 on 4 catches and a touchdown.
Trends: Virginia Tech lost their last game against Pittsburgh last year 35-17 on the road. In that game, Pittsburgh jumped out of the gate on a 6-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 12-yard Ray Graham rushing touchdown. The Hokies took over and had a promising drive of their own going until Logan Thomas was intercepted, giving the ball back to the Panthers. Then, after a punt on their second drive, the Hokies allowed the Panthers to go 8-plays for 86-yards and a 13-yard Tino Sunseri touchdown pass to Devin Street to put the visitors down two touchdowns. A Hokie fumble in their own territory on their fourth possession set the Panthers up with their third score, a 5-yard Ray Graham run that made it 21-0 in favor of Pittsburgh. Tech either turned the ball over or punted on each of their first four possessions. They finally got on the board midway through the second on a 32-yard Cody Journell field goal, cutting the lead to 18 going into half. After Pitt stalled on their first drive of the second half, Kyshoen Jarrett scored on a 94-yard punt return, sprung by a vicious block by Ronny Vandyke to pull the Hokies within 11. But seven minutes later, the Panthers scored again, this time on a Sunseri pass to Graham for 18 yards and a 28-10 advantage. But for the first time, the Hokies offense threatened on the next drive, as Logan Thomas connected with Marcus Davis on an 85-yard pass for a touchdown, pulling them back within 11. But that's where the Hokies' luck would come to an end, as the Panthers scored the game-sealing touchdown midway through the fourth on a 6-yard passing score from Sunseri to Mike Shanahan. Sunseri finished 19-28 for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. Thomas had the inverse peripherals with a touchdown and 3 picks on 14-of-31 for 265 yards. Marcus Davis led all receivers with 4 receptions for 129 yards and the touchdown. Mike Shanahan led the Panthers with 5 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. Ray Graham and Rushel Shell combined for 251 yards and two scores (both Graham's) on the ground. Pitt out-gained the Hokies 537-324.
History Lesson: The following information is all provided via Hokiesports.com. The Hokies lead the all-time series 7-5, going 7-4 against the Panthers in conference and are 4-1 against Pittsburgh at Lane Stadium. All 12 of the Hokies' games against the Panthers all-time come under Frank Beamer. The Hokies lost their last game to the Panthers 35-17 last season. The Panthers have taken the last four games in the series dating back to 2001. Tech is 4-0 against the Panthers in the month of October. Beamer is 0-1 against second-year Panthers Head Coach Paul Chryst. The Hokies are 4-5 in the series when they are ranked. Virginia Tech won the first game of the series in 1993 by the score of 63-21. The average score of the series is a 30-21 Virginia Tech advantage. Neither team has been shut out in the series. Saturday's game marks only the sixth time the Panthers will have visited Lane Stadium. Tech is 59-15 all-time in ACC conference games, including a 30-7 mark in home ACC games (rankings data dates back to 1950, the earliest year of Hokiesports' poll of choice, the Coaches' Poll).
What to Expect
Pittsburgh runs a pro-set offense
Defensively, the Panthers play out of the 4-3.
The Pnthers rank No. 69 nationally in total offense with 405.3 yards per game. They are also scoring 33.5 points per game, which ranks No. 44 nationally.
Pittsburgh ranks No. 43 in passing offense with 265 yards per game through the air.
The Panthers rank No. 88 nationally with 140.3 yards per game on the ground.
Defensively, the Panthers are giving up 380.8 yards per game, good for No. 54 nationally. They also are tied for No. 91 in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 31.5 points per game.
In rushing defense, Pittsburgh is No. 66 nationally, allowing only 161.8 yards per game. Through the air, they've allowed 219 yards per game, good for a No. 52 ranking in the nation.
Tom Savage has passed for 1,052 yards with 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions so far this season.
Running backs James Conner and Isaac Bennett have split the carries so far this season, and have combined for 532 yards and 6 TD's.
Tyler Boyd has 23 receptions for 425 yards and 4 touchdowns so far this year, and Devin Street also has 21 receptions for 445 yards and 3 TD's.
Hokies Win If: They are able to move the ball on the ground and through the air, and if they don't suffer the serious defensive lapses they did at Pittsburgh a year ago.
Panthers Win If: They repeat their formula from last year: keep the ball away from the Hokies, don't turn the ball over, shut down the Hokies' running game and force Logan Thomas into tough throws.
Dot-dot-dots: The triple-overtime win over Marshall was win No. 700 for the program. The Hokies are one of only 15 teams in the FBS to have that many wins. Frank Beamer is in sixth place all-time in wins among FBS coaches with 263. He needs 36 more to pass Joe Paterno, who now stands at 298 wins after 111 wins were vacated from his record. Individually, Logan Thomas is now the all-time leading-passer in Virginia Tech history in both passing attempts (1,o33), completions (569) and career passing yardage (7,308 yards). In the win over Georgia Tech, Thomas moved into third place all-time at Virginia Tech in wins for a quarterback with 22. He now has 23 and needs three more wins to move into a tie for second place all-time with Bryan Randall with 26 wins. Thomas became the all-time in passing yards in Virginia Tech history against North Carolina, passing Tyrod Taylor. Thomas also passed Bryan Randall for second place in total yardage in Tech history in the win over Georgia Tech, and stands at 8,453 yards, needing just 761 yards to pass Tyrod Taylor (9,213 yards) for first all-time in total yardage. In the win over Georgia Tech, Thomas also moved into a tie with Tyrod Taylor for first place all-time in rushing touchdowns among Virginia Tech quarterbacks, with 23. Thomas also has 45 passing touchdowns, good for third all time at Tech, just 3 behind Bryan Randall for the all-time record and 2 behind Maurice DeShazo for second place with 47. Thomas moved past Will Furrer and Tyrod Taylor on the all-time list in the North Carolina game. The 123 yards receiving by Willie Byrn represented the first time a Hokie had gone over 100 yards receiving in 2013. Kyle Fuller tops the ACC with 9 passes defended. A.J. Hughes leads all ACC punters with the most punts inside the 20 and of the 50+ yard variety with 12 apiece. D.J. Coles 5 touchdown receptions are tied for the most in the ACC and rank No. 13 nationally. The Hokies are 10-8-1 all-time on October 12.