The Pittsburgh Panthers travel to Blacksburg on Saturday for a huge ACC showdown with the Virginia Tech Hokies. The two rivals have played this series pretty evenly over the years, with the Hokies holding an 11-9 edge over the Panthers. However, the last three meetings between the two schools have been blowouts.
Can the Hokies win this game? Or will Pitt pull off a repeat of last season’s blowout?
Our staff has made their picks:
I don’t have a good feeling about this game. Call it pessimism, call it realism, I don’t know. Yes, I indeed think Pitt may be overrated. While some in the media are touting the Panthers like they are the Oklahoma Sooners, I chuckle a bit. However, they are good. They have several talented weapons on offense and an experienced quarterback who always knows where to go with the football.
I don’t trust Tech’s pass rush to be consistent. If the pass rush is consistent, the Hokies can win this game. Kenny Pickett can’t just sit in the pocket and throw to open receivers all day. The Hokies need to force him off his spot and pressure him into some mistakes.
Offensively, I just don’t trust this group to keep up with Pitt. Mainly, I don’t trust the coaching staff. This ultimately leads me to take the Panthers, begrudgingly.
Pitt 38, Virginia Tech 24
Well, are we 3-3 and 1-1 or 4-2 and 2-0 by 7:30 PM? The reality is that I do not know, and no one really does. Lots of people have lots of feelings... seemingly, most of them are pretty negative, but the truth is that we don’t know how this one is going to go. We know that the defense is reasonably stout, but it also had a last 4-minute complete collapse last week. At a critical point, it gave up the 10 points that tied and then won the game. Of course, the offense on the previous aborted drive didn’t help any, but with Burmeister barely able to lift his arm, it wasn’t completely surprising, either.
Pitt’s going to come into Lane with a serious attitude. It always does, and we always have serious trouble with them. Kenny Pickett is a 6th-year starter, and Pitt hasn’t played anyone particularly good, except for the game that they lost. Tennessee isn’t all that good or healthy this year, but neither are we. So the Panther win-loss record is basically a 24/25-year-old “Ph.D. candidate” who should have gone pro two seasons ago, being smarter and more capable than kids just out of high school. Of course, Nardo will show up on the sideline with his usual level of class.
It’s homecoming (who schedules tough teams for homecoming, anyway?). The parade was this evening, and the fireworks were loud. Will the Hokies be loud enough tomorrow? I just don’t know, and that bugs me. We came 4 minutes from calling the right result last week. And 1:04 for the West Virginia Game. Will tomorrow’s margin be that slim again?
This is an either-or: If Tech takes the field and maintains inside pressure on Pickett... and covers his receivers... the game will be a knockdown drag out dog fight where the less than golden Pitt defense might actually give up a few points to the Hokies In that case, Tech wins by 3 with an O/U south of 50. If Pitt and Pickett come in slinging the ball around and moving the ball, the results will not be pretty for the Hokies. Pitt takes it by two TDs, and the O/U goes north of 50.
I’ll go with my instinct that Pickett hasn’t played a tough schedule and hasn’t been pressed hard. Tech will be looking to do that and pulls this one out of the Homecoming Crown. 28-24 Hokies
I have a hunch that everyone is picking Pitt in this matchup, and I understand why. They have an offense with a ton of firepower led by a veteran quarterback (Kenny Pickett) playing at the top of his game. The Pitt offense is everything fans wish VTs offense could be: they have consistency at QB and they push the ball down the field. But our defense, outside of two huge plays in the WVU game, has been stout. Do we really think an ACC team without a distinct can drop 50 on the VT defense? Is it not possible that the offense manufactures enough big plays to turn the tide in a low-scoring game? I don’t think this is the blowout loss many think it will be, and in fact, I’m taking the Hokies in a close one.
Hokies 21, Panthers 20
This has been an up and down season to say the least. There are so many factors in this game. The Hokies are at home. Pitt just had an off week. Braxton is almost certainly not 100%. The weather. And the people in Vegas only have us as a 5 point dog when all logic would have us losing by 13.5 plus.
If this was a normal 72 degree and no wind game, I would pick Pitt 38-14. It isn’t. Colder, and more importantly, windy weather will play havoc on both teams quarterbacks and lead to uncharacteristic turnovers. Raheem Backshear will be key. The people in Vegas know something we don’t.
Hokies 28, Panthers 24
The Virginia Tech Hokies are coming off an emotional loss. The Pittsburgh Panthers are coming off a bye-week and have had two weeks to prepare for VT. Last season Pitt QB, Kenny Pickett, passed for 404 yards and two TDs on the way to a 47-14 devastation of the Hokies. He has shown no signs of slowing down this year. The Panthers are a big play offense and points will be scored. The VT offense is near the bottom of the FBS in both points and production. With the potential for a big-game hangover, a defense that is susceptible to big plays, and an offense that may be dependent on a banged up Burmeister, I do not see the Hokies fairing too well. I hope against all that I am wrong, but I fear this game will get ugly early as the Panthers take full control of the Coastal.