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Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Pittsburgh Panthers – The Grudge is Real

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It’s not a rivalry. It’s a grudge match. Rivalries have history, and some sort of emotion besides steaming dislike. Pitt has found a way to frustrate and derail us on too many occasions. We need to beat them at Lane Stadium on Saturday.

The Hokie Bird is Real, too.
John Schneider - SB Nation

There isn’t a ton of history between Pitt and Tech. We never faced each other before the Big East. After we left the BE, we didn’t pick up the encounters until after the Pittsburgh was invited to join the Coastal Division of the ACC in 2012.

The odd thing is that Pitt is not a “rival” in the classic sense. We only have 16 games on the boards, and the split is 9 and 7 in favor (some favor) of the Hokies. The issue is the slugging grudge match that these games have become. It doesn’t help matters that just before we left the Big East; we lost the last three games in that conference, one of which was a critical 5th ranking. After the 2003 embarrassment, we left the Panthers in the rearview mirror and went on to the ACC upper tier. Well, as that pesky Cab-over Pete towing the trailer full of pipes on I-81 eventually catches up to you, after you thought you’d lost it, Pitt showed up at the door of the ACC during the next expansion.

And Pit promptly picked up where it left off and beat us at the resumption of the bar fight in 2012. Just like when we were ranked 5th and Pitt 25th for that 2003 disaster, the Panthers invited us into the Big Ketchup as we were ranked 13th and holding on by a toe-nail. They handed us the “favor” all over again and that loss was the pin that took the air out of the 2012 season.

Since the ACC reset, Pitt has had the better of us. We got some revenge at home in 2013, but we failed in Pittsburgh in 2014 and then had some serious insult to injury visited on us by losing to Pitt for the 2015 season. So, last year, Justin Fuente rolled into downtown Pittsburgh, PA with something of a hex operating over the heads of the Hokies. It looked like it was going to be another opportunity for Pitt to take a chop out of Virginia Tech’s ranking (though last season, 25 was a complete surprise) we all felt like we were going to see another whammy being put on us by Heinz Field’s other football team. Check the Hokie Sports Team History Grid for more details:

Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburg a Very Short History

Season Date Site Score (VT-Opp) Rank
Season Date Site Score (VT-Opp) Rank
2016 10/27/2016 Pittsburgh W, 39-36 25/NR
2015 10/3/2015 Blacksburg L, 13-17 NR/NR
2014 10/16/2014 Pittsburgh L, 16-21 NR/NR
2013 10/12/2013 Blacksburg W, 19-9 24/NR
2012 9/15/2012 Pittsburgh L, 17-35 13/NR
2003 11/8/2003 Pittsburgh L, 28-31 5/25
2002 11/2/2002 Blacksburg L, 21-28 3/NR
2001 11/3/2001 Pittsburgh L, 7-38 12/NR
2000 10/28/2000 Blacksburg W, 37-34 2/NR
1999 10/30/1999 Pittsburgh W, 30-17 3/NR
1998 9/26/1998 Blacksburg W, 27-7 21/NR
1997 11/22/1997 Pittsburgh L, 23-30 19/NR
1996 10/26/1996 Blacksburg W, 34-17 NR/NR
1995 9/30/1995 Pittsburgh W, 26-16 NR/NR
1994 10/22/1994 Blacksburg W, 45-7 17/NR
1993 9/11/1993 Pittsburgh W, 63-21 NR/NR
The Hokies vs the Panthers over the years Hokie Sports

It seems that Justin Fuente was good for one thing right off the bat and that was ignoring the superstitious hexes, curses, and whammies. It was a game for the Hokie books, and an effort that left Hokie Nation thrilled beyond normal win levels. Jerod Evans threw for over 400 yards and Joey Slye kicked six field goals in the notoriously tricky winds of Heinz Field. The 39-36 win was critical in the ACC Coastal Championship race.

This season, the pressure for the ACC Coastal Championship is gone. We know that and also gone are Jerod Evans, Bucky Hodges, Sam Rogers, and Isaiah Ford. Tech is hanging on to a 7 game bowl eligible season, with two possible regular season wins necessary to set the table for another 10 win season. Yes, we would have had a better chance if we had done the job against Georgia Tech last week, but that was then. Pitt is now.

The Pittsburgh Panthers are currently 4 and 6. With wins against Youngstown State, Rice, Duke, and Virginia (there is hope). Pat Narduzzi’s crew is struggling this year, enough that North Carolina just put up 34 points on them for a Tar Heel win. There really isn’t a huge bunch of scary stats to relay when it comes to Pitt’s offense. Yahoo Sports lists them at 151st in passing and 136th in rushing, which as has been pointed out is like negative territory in the ranking hierarchy of the FBS.

Their starting Quarterback Ben DiNucci is playing at a pedestrian pace in the passing game, and doesn’t run all that much, either. Darrin Hall, Qadree Ollison, Quadree Henderson are their top three running backs and they actually are chopping off more than 4 yards a rush, each. Hall gets the bulk of the carries and has the biggest rushing total of about 600 yards. The Pitt offense spreads the ball around to their receivers and their running backs so coverage is going to be critical. What you don’t see are a high volume of passes or runs and DiNucci has thrown only four TDs and matched that with four picks.

The Hokies can win this game. The Defense will have to get to DiNucci, and the Pitt run game will have to be contained within a few yards of the LOS. So, for the 1-0 game on Saturday, the Virginia Tech Hokies need to reach down and remember the #HardSmartTough ethos of last season and match it with their unwillingness to give up. The kickoff is in the 12:00-ish time frame, hopefully before the cold rain hits. It’s going to be very personal. We’ll be on the sideline and the pictures will be forthcoming.

GO HOKIES!!!!

Poll

Given the history of these two teams, is the game going to be:

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    A Blowout
    (28 votes)
  • 75%
    A Fistfight
    (90 votes)
  • 1%
    A Shootout
    (2 votes)
120 votes total Vote Now