Pitt (3-1) @ BC (2-1); Saturday, October 10, 4 p.m.
It’s a bit of reunion for some Eagles as they take on the Pitt Panthers this weekend. Phil Jurkovec will face his hometown college, while Coaches Hafley and Cignetti will look onto the bench where they coached in the late 2000s (00’s?).
BC comes into this game after losing a nail-biter to UNC. Still waiting for the call on the onside kick recovery, but we digress. Pitt is coming off their own last minute loss to NC State 30-29, after first handily taking down Syracuse and skating by a hobbled Louisville side. The Eagles of course ran all over their old Big East chums last season on the literal back of AJ Dillon in what would be his final game in the maroon and gold. While the Eagles have morphed into quite a different team since then, this should still be an instant classic. This will be Pitt’s first road game of the season, and they are looking at top-10 teams in Miami and Notre Dame in the next two weeks.
Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett leads the Pitt offense. Pickett is a sneaky NFL prospect, but has had to carry the Pitt offense quite a bit in his previous two season starting. He threw for over 300 yards against us last season, and is second only to Trevor Lawrence in the ACC with 281 passing yards. Luckily, they offense doesn’t exactly have the most explosive offensive playmakers. Senior Taysir Mack is the main returning target, but still acclimating as he returns from injury. Then the team relies on true freshman Jordan Addison and Maryland transfer DJ Turner. Addison was injured and missed the second half of the NC State game, but the 5’9 Turner had 186 yards in the same game, and leads the ACC albeit with an extra game or two than most. (Standing by the lack of explosive playmakers comment). Dropped passes have plagued the offense [worse than COVID], with four a game. The Panthers struggle running the ball, with their leading rusher average less than 50 a game. Their offensive line has had trouble getting any push, but Pickett will be the one to watch when there’s only a yard to gain.
Pitt and Coach Pat Narduzzi still hold their hats on defense. Despite All-American tackle Jaylen Twyman opting out of the season, the side still boasts some top talent. On the front, they lead the nation in sacks with 19. Senior defensive end Patrick Jones and Rashad Weaver are the big names to watch. Their run defense has been exceptional thus far, allowing under two yards per carry.
Pitt defends man-to-man, and even with some key pieces misses in the secondary, their safeties still pose trouble. Pre-season All-American junior Paris Ford will be all over the place and he is as hard-hitting as they come. Playing alongside Ford is senior Damar Hamlin, and you can probably expect one of these two to try to keep Hunter Long in check. The defense has struggled with penalties so far this season, however. 271 penalty yards put the Panthers dead last in the ACC, and if BC-UNC is any indicator, we’ll see the flags flying. They still lead the conference in pass defense, although Devin Leary torched them last week and they played Syracuse.
Hafley will surely be able to keep Pickett in check as Sam Howell largely was last week. If they conjured up the old rushing magic, I’m sure that could lead to victory over the Panthers, but it probably still won’t be a big difference maker in this one. This is a team that has a lot of experience all around and won’t be an easy out. We should expect them to come out and respond to a bitter loss last week. This feels like a grind-it-out sort of game.
BC +185/ Pitt -230
BC 20 - Pitt 17
The Eagles get back into the “Other Receiving Votes” section of the top-25! The ground game is low-key back, but mostly on the backs of a strong offensive line performance. Jurkovec slowly but surely figures out the Pitt defense and leads the Eagles to another late victory. Virginia Tech already seeing flashbacks of Matt Ryan.