POV’s Pitt-PSU Prediction Thread

When I was at a tailgate before the Villanova game a Pitt fan I know asked me “Why are you so negative now?”  I laughed that off and countered that I am  “Trying to make it real… compared to what?” (Jazz fans know what I’m talking about).

But he was actually kind of pissed at me and braced me up to give him a Pitt-PSU winner right then and there.  I told him I have no idea because I hadn’t seen our team play yet. But then I said Pitt by three points because that was what I wanted the outcome to be – not really what I thought it would be because I had no idea what Pitt could do on the field.

That was then this is now.  I have to say right off the bat I have a bad feeling about this game and it is because of our track record in “Big Games” along with our tepid showing last week.  Overall we are poor at rising to the occasion and have been for some time.  It is a whole different world to beat teams who you are better than or equal to – and when you win eight of those in one season we fans get very (overly) excited.

That isn’t to say we can’t win a big game because we have won some against ‘better’ teams in the recent past.

In 2007  Dave Wannstedt beat WVU 13-9 in a fantastic 24 point underdog beats the presumptive Champs game. Then again in 2008 he beat #10 USF by 28-21.

Graham even beat a ranked #16 USF team in 2011 by a 44-17 score. Damn, how much does it hurt to look at our wins against a school like USF and feel good as we do about getting them? That sure tells us where we have been lately.

Paul Chryst continued that trend by winning a very nice match against #13 VT by 18 points in a 35-17 game in ’12, then followed that with a big 21 point win over a #18 Rutgers the next season.

But we had our chances to do the same things last year also and failed to do so.

I think most disappointing was when we were ranked #23  and hosting North Carolina at home in an important ACC match and we lost.  That game made me think we had some time to go before I would be able to look at a current Pitt team and feel sure we’d win a game.

That was reinforced when we also lost to two ranked teams.  One was against #5 ND – in a rout that wasn’t nearly as close as the score shows.  In that game we were down 21-3 at the half and 42-17 with 5:30 left to play in the game. I didn’t expect us to beat them though.

But when we played Miami, were favored by a +7 point spread and playing at home and  even with a change of their head coach in mid-October they whooped us by jumping out to a 23-3 halftime lead then coasted to a  29-24 win. That was one I thought we should have taken.

And that was repeated in January when we played #21 Navy and they had us down 21-7 at half and 35-7 at mid-3rd quarter. I felt Navy was a very good team but they killed us and that being with a long time for Narduzzi to prepare our players for that game.

So except for that strong Notre Dame team each of those other game were winnable and we didn’t even come close in reality.

Looking back at 2015 and our eight wins (Yeah Us!)  I can’t find any one which really made me sit up and say “Wow“. Hey, I was happy as hell when we sat at 6-1, then proud also when we were 8-3 and on the verge of a very good season.  But I, and you all too I’d think, have a sour taste and some trepidation after watching Pitt in those last two games of ’15 and then again in last week’s showing, even in a win, against a FCS team.

Pitt and Penn State do look to be pretty darn evenly matched over all.  I listed some areas I think are do or die for us yesterday – stopping their fine RB Saquon Barkley for one and getting our offensive lineman’s heads out of their asses is another.  Starters DE Hendrix and LB Zeise are out and that will hurt us I believe.   I also don’t think we’ll get nearly the same pressure on QB McSorley as we did against Villanova’s QB last week.

Plus I think we Pitt fans are underestimating what McSorley can do as a passer.  Let’s not forget that he’s only had one game as a starter – and while that can hurt a kid it can also mask what he really is capable of.

Who knows? But against Georgia in the bowl game last year he went 14/27 for 142 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs so he’s played against good team and done pretty well. Last week he was 16/31 for 209 and again, 2 TDs vice 0 INTs.  So he can pass the ball at least.

The fact is that McSorely’s the QB HC James Franklin wants to have in his Run Option offense and that will put points on the board tomorrow.  But even as I doubt he’ll beat us with his arm we could face torture by a thousand cuts in short completed passes and 1st downs by his legs.  Which will control the clock in their favor.

We have a running game that should have been the showcase of the team last week and sputtered to a 3.1 yards per carry average.  That has to make huge strides for us to stay in the game… and I’m not sure the OL is going to gel well enough, over only seven days and in the face of a good Big Ten DL, to make that happen.

And if it comes down to a field goal to win the game I give us a 50/50 chance.

We can go on and on parsing what can should and will happen on Saturday. But the beauty of college football and the agony and ecstasy of following Pitt football is that you can’t depend on anything.

So I won’t.  To think Narduzzi is the coach who is going to win this game on the strength of his leadership is suspect in my opinion because he’s shown none of that when it has come to pressure situations. Quite the opposite I believe.

I was underwhelmed with the way our team came out to play on Saturday against Villanova. A 7-0 score after 29:41 of play isn’t something to look at and say “Boy, he had those kids ready to go” because he didn’t – pure and simple.

And he showed his frustration in a big way on the sidelines as the kids were floundering around out there in the 1st half.  So no, I don’t look at Pat Narduzzi at this point and think he’s a leader who gets his kids to play above their talent level and stay confident enough for 60 minutes to secure a big win.

But it isn’t all on only Narduzzi.

Sad to say that Pitt’s two-deep talent level isn’t that great this season either.  We have some good players and I think we’ll win more than lose this year. But again, we have a new offensive coordinator who didn’t grasp the game in hand last week and it may take the offense some more games to hit their stride with him.

Pitt was too hot and cold as a team last year, last week and has been for years – and there will be a ton of screaming PSU fans trying to disrupt our kid’s and our staff’s concentration.  Thus strike any home field advantage Heinz may have for a regular opponent – that goes right out the window this Saturday against Penn State.

As much as I want a victory and I really, really do and I would be happy to be wrong but I have to go with my gut here.  I just don’t think we have the talent + leadership+ mojo to pull this one out against a rival team who can move the ball on the ground as well as I think PSU will do in an emotionally played game.

I think PSU takes it in a 24-20 game.

 

 

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120 thoughts on “POV’s Pitt-PSU Prediction Thread

  1. This game will come down to field goal. Final score 27-24 Pitt. Whitehead and Q. Henderson will be the difference makers in the game.

    Pitt 27 – PSU 24

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  2. I too have a bad feeling about this game. Last week was not why I have that feeling though. It was our first game under a new offensive coordinator and against an inferior football team. We used very little of our new playbook especially once we were up by two scores. Running up the score is not Narduzzi’s style. The thing that has me worried is the way Narduzzi went into “circle the wagon” mode at the beginning of the week. The team is going to be feeling the pressure of this big game and come out tight as heck. The first offensive series we will try to run something like a jet sweep and mishandle the ball creating a turnover for PSU. From there it will go downhill in the first half. Narduzzi will make halftime corrections, as is his custom, and the team will comeback a bit in the second half. The final score will be
    Pitt 17 Penn State 35. I hope I am very wrong!

    PSU 35 – Pitt 17

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  3. On an emotional level, I feel a Pitt win. On an analytical level, I see PSU winning. Other than the O-line, I think that PSU has more speed and athleticism at all other positions/units. This one feels like Pitt v ND of last year to me. Pitt will come back and make it a game, but PSU will win 31-20. Pitt will need to control the ball to make this one any closer.

    PSU 31 – Pitt 20

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  4. Scary game for sure but I can never bring myself to give a score not in favor of PITT.

    PITT 24—psu 21

    Ford has a big day.

    See you guys at the game……..ike

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  5. It will be a close game 3-4 points separating teams..I will drink about it tonight and start self-medicating with a bloody early in the morning…We win by 3 in OT..but like some posters I have been conditioned to have this visceral negative feeling..the last 3 times I have had that “We are gonna kick their ass feeling” was riding over in the Gateway paddlewheeler from the Sheraton to the UNC game and when I bet $200 on our boys to beat Houston and Navy……I wouldn’t touch thi$ game…

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  6. I think this game will be won in the trenches. Their defensive line is deep and it will test our offensive line all day. I see loads of pressure on NP which will cause fumbles and miscues. NP has shown that he dosen’t handle pressure well. I too think the game will get away from us early and doom our chances of playing catch-up. NP struggles, our running game struggles and our defense is out on the field too long. All spell disaster. Reed said it all when he highlighted our depth. The other team wins by 3 TDs.
    I pray I am wrong but the past is a good predictor of the future.

    PSU by 3 TDS

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  7. Totally blank. Felt Pitt big all summer. Then, last week. Were we just being vanilla?? I don’t know.
    Gone back and forth all week, Pitt going to explode……then, crap, we’re gonna be muscled around.

    Totally blank. Full of hope.

    Red Lot 5A 7AM, delicious Bloody Mary’s for anyone who wants one.

    H2P!!

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  8. Guys – if you can would you also leave the score you think it will be? That way I can pick the winner of the commenters and send a small prize…

    “Anonymous” – last week you won the score prize but I have no way of contacting you.

    BTW – here are the local sports media guys’ predictions requested by Mike Vukovcan:

    “I sent messages out to local, out-of-town and national media along with a few former Pitt Panther football players to get prediction for Saturday’s battle.

    Paul Alexander (Root Sports): Penn State 32 – Pitt 29

    Tim Benz (DKSportsRadio/Steelers Radio Network): Penn St 22 – Pitt 20

    Harry Psaros (Pittsburgh Sports Now): Pitt 24 – Penn State 21

    Josh Taylor (KDKA TV): Penn State 23 – Pitt 20

    Will Graves (PIttsburgh Associated Press): Penn State 16 – Pitt 13

    Cory Geiger (Altoona Mirror): Pitt 30 – Penn State 23

    Dorin Dickerson (former Pitt TE): Pitt 24 – Penn State 20

    Bob Pompeani (KDKA TV): Pitt 24 – Penn State 23

    Rich Walsh (KDKA TV): Pitt 31 – Penn State 17

    Chris Mack (93.7 FM The Fan): Pitt 22 – Penn State 20

    Rob Rossi (Pittsburgh Tribune Review): Penn State 28 – Pitt 17

    Andrew Fillipponi (93.7 FM The Fan): Pitt 24 – Penn State 12

    David Todd (ESPN Radio): Pitt 24 – Penn State 16

    Chris Adamski (Pittsburgh Tribune Review): Pitt 25 – Penn State 18

    Paul Zeise (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/93.7 The Fan): Pitt 19 – Penn State 16”

    Jerry DiPaola also predicted a close PSU win. So with those guys and myself that is a 6 for PSU and 10 for Pitt all close games but a few.

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  9. Although I still can’t get the bad taste of Navy out of my mouth, and the poor offensive execution last week, I have hope because Franklin has not won a big game yet.

    Pitt 31-PSU 17.

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  10. The attitude of this site changed greatly after last week’s game vs Nova. I say Pitt plays with much more focus and passion this week.

    Pitt 24-16

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  11. wwb – last weeks game was poorly played on offense versus a FCS team. I think we may be overestimating PSU a bit but nothing Pitt did last week – even on defense – made me think we’d be a much better team the next week.

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  12. interesting media predictions. PSU homers like Adamski & Mack picking Pitt.

    Neither coach has had the big win so tomorrow will be the first for one of them. Law of averages points to Franklin being due, and that scares me. Plus as mentioned by Reed, poor showings against Miami, Navy (also 2nd half of Louisville) still have me a little leery of Narduzzi.

    I think the PSU offense will start clicking later in the season; might not be moving on all cylinders yet. So I think if we get a turnover or two, and secure the ball well, we should be able to pull this out. But it will go to the wire and maybe even OT.

    Pitt 31-28

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  13. Forget you guys. Negativity is palpable here sometimes. But, the reality is Pitt didn’t look too hot v. Villanova. And, PSU surely didn’t look too hot v. Kent State either. So, toss out that result for both.

    I say Whitehead makes an impact, enough to swing the game in Pitt’s favor.

    Pitt 26
    PSU 21

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  14. I skipped all the negativity and I’m going right to the prediction:

    Pitt 34 – psu 16

    Bah Humbug! I’m going to head to Pittsburgh for an enjoyable weekend – you guys should consider doing the same…

    Pulverize the pedos – onward to The Pursuit for the ACC Championship

    HTP!

    Pitt 34 – psu 16

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  15. Reed, half-full or half-empty. There were a handful of top teams who struggled vs inferior teams last week (Tenn vs App St; TCU vs S Dak St; Ark – La Tech; Mich St – Furman …. and a few more.) 2 years ago, Pitt beat Delaware 62-0 in the opener, then a month later, lost to Akron 21-10 at home.

    IMO, it’s all about focus and I say Pitt was looking ahead last week

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  16. sjr, I was shocked Adamski picked Pitt. He has been IMO the biggest media PSU homer around … at least until I read that piece from the P-G Asst Editor a few months ago.

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  17. This is a Pitt team with which comming into the season we mostly had high expectations of, playing a psu team which we all mostly felt was in a downward spiral comming into this season. Week one showed Pitt playing down to those expectations and psu playing a little better than expected. One week doesn’t make a season and with this being a rivalry game, I’m much more comfortable with the outlook with the teams appearing evenly matched, than I would be if we were 10 point favorites.
    Pitt has a lot of potential in year two here, and if they play up to it or exceed it, I feel they come away with a win comfortably.

    Going with optimism and saying Pitt 21 psu 10.

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  18. I need to see a big win before I can predict a big win I suppose. Although anything can happen.

    Johnny – interesting you should mention Whitehead because as I was writing this I thought a Pick-6 by him might be the winning margin.

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  19. I’ll be in the air for most of the game on Saturday. Flight leaves at 1:30 so I’ll be able to catch the first hour at TGIFridays in Terminal A before I board. I should be able to catch most of the 2nd half on the plane via free wifi once we get to cruising altitude. I just hope it doesn’t come down to the wire (but think it will) since we’ll be descending around 3ish and will have to ‘turn off all devices’.

    I think a lot of folks are over-estimating PSU in their predictions. The teams have been fairly equal the past 4-5 years in rankings. Pitt is at home and hopefully enjoys the home field advantage.

    Pitt 23 – PSU 20

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  20. In golf, you visualize the shot you want to hit, then step up and hit it. At least that’s the way it’s supposed dto work. I’ll confess that — in the interest of sending out some positive vibs — I’m typing what I want to see (versus what I fear seeing):

    Cut to Billy Hillgrove:

    “And the final score in a real barn-burner here at Heinz Field, the Pitt Panthers 20, the Nittany Lions 17.”

    Go Pitt.

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  21. Fact is, nobody has a clue what we see tomorrow. That is why they play the game.

    It is just tremendous to finally play a game with passion and a game that needs no false hype.

    No matter what anyone is saying, both sides want to win this game badly.

    Franklin trying to say it is only one game while Narduzzi has gone all in with triple secret practices and

    media blackouts.

    The North Side and Downtown will be crazy tonight and tomorrow will be insane.

    I do hope all fans try to keep it classy. It is only a football game, yeah right!

    The level of enthusiasm that we will see tomorrow has been missing for way to long.

    A full house at Heinz.

    By the way, I noticed a lot of empty seats at PSU last week, that used to never happen.

    Too bad this game can’t be played every year. The Commonwealth should withhold funding, if

    it isn’t. It is that important for PA football and the Northeast. Why should the south have all the fun?

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  22. I just got back from Vegas seeing family ( grand kids!) who lives out there. Vegas had the spread of Pitt being favored my 5 to win this game. Reading MOST everything above you would have to think that Vegas is clueless about this game. Somebody is clueless: is it the many posters above or is it Vegas? We’ll know soon enough wouldn’t we?
    Oh, and by the way before I left Vegas I stopped in a Book and gladly bet on Pitt -5. I gave the receipt slip to my son to collect the winnings to go buy a nice meal for the whole family with it!
    Pittman4ever says:

    PITT 30 PSU 21

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  23. Drank two beers at lunch… I am taking the Panthers to win 27 to 24 in overtime … Blewitt pulled and second team kicker splits the uprights… Taking the rest of the afternoon off… It’s Pitt versus Penn State weekend… i’m the boss and I’m giving myself a holiday… need time to prepare… Hope the players on both sides “feel it and get it” PITT vs Penn State … Battle for Eastern Supremency

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  24. Sad how the thirst for $$$ has ruined so many rivalries … Will enjoy this while we have it… A win would be the best way to honor our 76 National Champs..

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  25. This is a tough one. My heart tells me to put down a score like Pitt 71 PSU -21. But my typical feeling before any Pitt game is that we are going to lose because we’ve so often stunk or choked in the past 20 years. Regardless of those haunting thoughts, I can’t bring myself to predict a score against my school especially when playing the arch-enemy cult school. Their select group of outspoken fans (like those at Onward State and the other JoeBots) make me sick to my stomach.
    With that said I think we win because of some kind of lucky play – be it a short missed FG or fumbled snap inside the red zone by PS when going in for the winning score. I think we give up one long run score and one long pass score but otherwise play bend but don’t break D.

    Pitt 27
    PSU 26

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  26. It’s a good thing I am not a gambler – don’t bet the home team is an adage I would ignore and always lose. As of this point that other school out in the cow field IMO has recruited better athletes and is way deeper. While I can predict Pitt to lose other games I cannot do so when the other team is PSU; it is in my feeble mind rooting for PSU and not giving my 100%. ( I don’t see how people say that someone gave 110 % – all you can give is 100%). Our OL cannot improve that much in a week; their QB appears to be the real deal (though still hasn’t had a bad performance in his 2 games; Barkley at this point is better than the recovering JC, Nard hasn’t won the big one. God I’m depressing myself. Hence PITT 21 psu 20.
    HAIL TO PITT!!!!! BEAT THE NITTERS!!

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  27. No prediction and not feeling optimistic. I want to believe in PN but objectively I have to agree with Reed that PN has not demonstrated that he can make a team with grade C players into a grade B team. I want to believe and I will if Pitt wins tomorrow. And if they do, I think it’s going to be a sweet ride thereafter. Let’s put it this way: Why would Wade want to play for Pitt if we lose tomorrow? Now if we win, dems a horse of a different color.

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  28. If I am Penn State I am going to pressure Alex officer all day long… Disrupting the center to quarterback exchange could be one key to a Penn State victory … While being flawless in the center to quarterback change is a key to a Pitt victory… Officer has been to this rodeo before… Any bad snaps and his ass needs yanked

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  29. Please change the title of this thread to: “REED’S SOP”. I’m really sick of all this SOP $hit on this site. Erie – great call on Whitehead’s throwing pick 6!!! Love it!! LMAO! ( BTW, you won our weekly remark contest with it!!)

    I think we see a fullback in the backfield all day, and vacuous to holes for JC and the Boys to run thru. I think the OL comes out of hibernation, and has pancakes all day! NP barely gets touched, and psux’ D gets burned no matter if they pack the box, or play the pass. As Nard dog said, ” pick your poison”. — why the hell do you think he’s so secretive?? And why do you think we were more vanilla than vanilla last week??

    And just to attack all the naysayers, Blewett doesn’t, and goes 3/3! The D almost pitches it’s second consecutive shutout. WE WIN, WE WIN!! 30-6.

    IT IS A LONG AND SULLEN RIDE BACK TO THE HOME OF THE COWS!!! (And the psux’ farm cows are so dejected, they dry up for a month!!)

    THE GOOD GUYS WEAR GOLD HATS!

    Nittany?? You shittin me??

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  30. As I posted yesterday, I believe Peterman will be pressured all game long and as a result he will turn the ball over several times(either interceptions or fumbles). Can’t see the Pitt offense from last week(and this week unfortunately) overcoming those turnovers.

    PSU 30 Pitt 14.

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  31. Peterman will have a good game. Even when pressured he is smart with the ball.

    If one Pitt RB gets over 100 yards they win. Pitt must have a good running game to win.

    PSU and all spread teams move the ball and their QBs all get running yards close to or over 50.
    You have to win the time of possession.

    Whitehead or Price knock McSorely out of the game.

    Pitt wins 27-24

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  32. They have the new QB
    They’re on the road
    Their coach makes the big $
    They’re the ‘football factory’
    They’re not supposed to lose this game

    The pressure is on them.

    I’ll take Pitt to cover 27-16

    Pitt 27 – PSU 16

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  33. Funny, PennLive reporters who cover PSU all picked Pitt, Pittsburgh media types like PSU. Tells you they both stink!
    I see long plays by PSU, and them winning the field position. Think Nard dog has them wound way too tight.

    PSU 27- Good guys 17

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  34. I agree with Bostons that the pressure should be on PSU. I’m surprised that PSU isn’t favored or at least the game isn’t a pick’em. PSU has more than twice as many 4-star athletes as Pitt over the previous 4 or 5 years and many of Pitt’s highly-ranked players are no longer here (Jennings, Voytik, Shell, Rippy, James…).

    The reason Pitt is favored must be the lack of confidence in Jimmy F. — which appears to be well deserved.

    Go Pitt.

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