The Virginia Tech Hokies are back in action Saturday as they travel north to Pittsburgh to face the Pitt Panthers. We all know of Virginia Tech’s struggles in Pittsburgh over the years. The stadium formerly known as Heinz Field has been the scene for some ugly Virginia Tech performances in recent years. Virginia Tech lost to Pitt, 47-14, in 2020 and it was even worse in 2018, when the Panthers embarrassed the Hokies, 52-22. Pitt rushed for 492 yards, six touchdowns and averaged a ridiculous 13.7 yards per attempt.
What happens in 2022? Of course, your first thought is another blowout. Why would we give this team the benefit of the doubt right now? No, this Pitt team doesn’t have Kenny Pickett, but the Panthers are always tough and competitive.
Anyway, let’s see our predictions.
This shouldn’t be too hard. In recent weeks, I’ve given the Hokies the benefit of the doubt, even when I predicted them to lose. This team could only score 10 points against UNC’s defense. The North Carolina defense was on a historically bad pace, yet the Hokies made them look competent.
I don’t think Pitt’s offense is as good as last year’s team. Kedon Slovis definitely isn’t Kenny Pickett, but he doesn’t need to be. The Panthers will look to establish the line of scrimmage early, and if that happens, it will be another long day for the Hokies. What Virginia Tech needs from its defense is turnovers. Georgia Tech upset the Panthers in Pittsburgh last week because it forced multiple turnovers. That’s Virginia Tech’s only chance.
Pittsburgh 27, Virginia Tech 13
At this point, the Virginia Tech offense is going to have to show me it can break ten points. The Pittsburgh defense is, perhaps, not playing as well as we expected, but they are probably still the best defense that the Hokies have faced so far this season. That last sentence is probably one that will make an appearance every week until the Hokies face NCST as the competition continues to ratchet up. Defensively, VT has been exposed over the last two games, and the Hokies have been beaten by 3+ scores against both WVU and UNC. Pitt’s offense isn’t as dangerous as the last two, but the Panthers are still a competent offense, especially on the ground. RB, Israel Abanikanda, has over 500-yards on the deck, and is a big play threat, bursting out from behind a stout Pitt offensive line. Abanikanda left last week’s game against GT with a shoulder injury. Although I’ve yet to see an official decision made, Panthers head coach, Pat Narduzzi, seemed confident that his star RB would be available Saturday against VT. Even if he isn’t, backup RB, Vincent Davis, is no slouch, averaging six yards per carry. All the above aside, VT has struggled to win in the city of Pittsburgh, PA, even when they were a perennial ten-win team fighting for conference championships. Unless we see a completely different approach to the game and a level of athleticism and ability yet to be demonstrated by VT, I expect a third consecutive loss for rookie head coach Brent Pry and company.
Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 10
Painful. This season is painful, I suppose we really were always saying that it probably was going to be but being right about that really hasn’t been a pleasant “right”. This team’s floor and ceilings were always 2 games apart and getting past the 5-7 floor was going to be a challenge. Getting above a 7-5 was a near impossibility, and most of us were about to live with the 6-6 booger bowl, or 5-7 Christmas to New Year’s vacay. At the moment, even that floor is looking like a really hard feat. This stretch of four games in October were always going to be brutally difficult. If the Hokies were pushing good, there was a possibility of a 2-2 split, but the Carolina game closed that door, and Miami’s struggles might not be weakness enough to rescue anything with a 1-4 split. Pitt never seemed to be anything but a drop, and I just don’t see that we have the offense enough to hold parity with the Panthers enough for a win. The spread is almost embarrassing at 13.5 to 15.5. But that would also be an ugly moment from a “normal” time period - Not this year. Hokies look like they are going to drop this one with the best hope to not make it look horrid. I’m not thinking that’s going to happen. I’d like to see them break the 10-point barrier by something.
Pittsburgh 42, Virginia Tech 17