POV Prediction Thread: Pitt vs NC

These are the fun articles to write because we Pitt fans get clear answers to our questions and prediction choices in a bit more than 24 hours.

This, to me, if the real “Big Game” on the schedule and that’s not taking anything away from our PSU win.  That still makes me smile thinking about it.  But the stated goal of every season we are in the ACC is to first win the ACC Coastal division and then the ACC conference championship.

That is why we play these conference games and starting off with a team that is possibly the best, or second best, team in the conference this early in the season is a real test as to where we are as a football team so far this 2016 season.

We have two wins against one loss and that’s fine… but I still have a hard time trying to determine just how good we really are given that we have played three different quality level schools.  The 28-7 Villanova win was expected and they really aren’t at our level of program.

Penn State is though and that 42-38 win was great… yet I wonder just how good PSU is this season.  I called for a Pitt loss there and was wrong but the game could have gone either way at the end.  However, I think we outplayed them pretty well all told so that is heartening.

The last game, against another Power Five school with the Big 12’s Oklahoma State, was another close one but we ended up on the short end of a 45-38 score.  That game is the one I can’t really get a handle on but the thing that jumps out, and did so also in the PSU game, is just how very poor our defensive backs have played.

I’m not saying anything new here but it is a problem that no matter how many angles I look at it I just don’t see a real solution.  That doesn’t mean we can’t find a solution, just that I can’t figure one given the personnel we have back there.

The good thing here however is that I am wrong about aspects of Pitt football a lot of the time. And that’s the thing about college ball – in the NFL teams usually play to their strengths and weaknesses in a consistent manner.  In college though weird stuff happens all the time and comes unexpectedly week to week. 

Let’s hope that happens with our pass defense because if we can get straightened out, even if our DBs just play average ball, I’d feel a whole lot better about how the rest of the season will play out.

OK then – North Carolina tomorrow down in Chapel Hill.  What can we expect to happen?

smartchart

smart-chart-2

^^ Here are the latest odds-makers thoughts on the game… The betting line has risen from Pitt getting 7 points immediately after the OSU game to this morning where Pitt is standing at +7.5 or +7 points with most sites.  One has us getting +6.5 which means some money is flowing toward a Pitt win.  Here are some other bits of info about this meeting and that the Pros think is the final score will be NC 40 – Pitt 30.

What do we Pitt fans think though is the real question.  For me there are two main points to consider – the first I mentioned above and that’s our pass defense – it has been terrible and if they replicate that tomorrow the NC QB is going to get a lot of yards in the air and put a lot of points on the board. snip_20160923090350The second is our own passing game.  It was practically non-existent last week when it came to producing yards when needed the most. 

Peterman put up a decent number with his stats against OSU but the bottom line is that it wasn’t happening when we needed it to primarily on 3rd down tries where we were a dismal 4 of 18.  Another bad thing is that we held a 20-10 minute TOP margin in that 2nd half. 

Here is what we did with both passing and rushing attempts on critical 3rd down plays in the second half of play:

*    3rd and 9 at PITT 36

(2:00 – 3rd) PITTSBURGH Penalty, False Start (-5 Yards) to the Pitt 31

*    3rd and 14 at PITT 31

(1:30 – 3rd) James Conner run for 7 yds to the Pitt 38

*   3rd and 3 at PITT 37

(13:03 – 4th) Nathan Peterman pass incomplete to Scott Orndoff

*    3rd and 14 at PITT 16

(10:36 – 4th) Nathan Peterman pass incomplete

*    3rd and 13 at PITT 7

(8:15 – 4th) Nathan Peterman pass complete to Scott Orndoff for 5 yds to the Pitt 12

*   3rd and 4 at PITT 48

(3:45 – 4th) James Conner run for a loss of 5 yards to the Pitt 43

*    3rd and 4 at PITT 26

(0:40 – 4th) Nathan Peterman pass incomplete to Scott Orndoff

*    2nd and 10 at OKST 45

(0:15 – 4th) Nathan Peterman pass intercepted Ramon Richards return for 3 yds to the OKSt 29

That is seven (or six maybe as the top two play were in sequence) blown 3rd down tries in a row and then the game-ending INT which closed out our 45-38 loss.  The real tragedy there is that our defense held OSU to pretty much the same offensive ineptitude as we were locked at 38-38 most of the time.  They only scored one more TD as we were shooting ourselves in the foot and that was the damn 86 yard pass down to our 1 yard line.

There are some real bright spots to our play over three games though – our running game has done extremely well in averaging 239 yards per game and seven TDs – although you’d think there would be more with all those yards we rack up. 

But what is really happening is that we are breaking off huge runs on jet-sweeps, end-around etc… and thus getting down close enough for Peterman to toss six TD passes of his own.

Our run defense has been stout also – except when it comes to the red zone.  Overall we are holding teams to 76 ypg but again that is shadowed by what happens in real life during the game.  our opponents have use their 330 yards per game in the air against us to get into the red zone then they run the ball in for TDs.

We sit tied for last place in the 105th spot – in red zone defense where the other teams have scored 8 out of the 8 times they have been there (7 rushing,0 passing and 1 FGs).  A good example of that was against PSU where McSorley passed them downfield and Barkley, with only 85 yards on the day, scored four red zone rushing TDs.

All this adds up to just more questions on how good of a team we really are.  That is why I think tomorrows game is so really important – even setting aside the fact that it kicks off our ACC schedule.

If we play unbalanced football as we have been doing and lose, then I think the rest of the season will play out in a way we won’t be terribly happy with – probably seven wins.

But if the coaching staff has been able to look pragmatically at our shown strengths and weaknesses – both on the part of the players and as importantly their own decision-making, then I think we’ll see a win and it will launch us forward.

So – as much as I look at this staff and program and see problems, I also look and see real promise.  My gut tells me we may lose but I’m going with my belief that we can learn from past mistakes and fix, or at least minimize, the problems we do have… and my heart tells me:

Pitt 35 – NC 31

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100 thoughts on “POV Prediction Thread: Pitt vs NC

  1. While I think it will be very difficult to win this game, I am predicting a Pitt victory 45-42 in a game very similar to Penn State. This, all because of the talent we faced last week. NC is good but no way are the in the same class with OK ST. After the Cowboys NC will seem like they are “walking” to our shellshocked secondary.
    NC is a huge drop in class for Pitt. Go get em Panthers! Mistake free football wins this for Pitt.

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  2. Appreciate your heart-felt positive prediction… but as I have stated before… if a Pitt team w/ TD and a Pitt team w/ Hugh Green/Marino couldn’t win @UNC… most certainly this flawed team can’t.

    UNC 37
    Pitt 31

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  3. What the last two games tell me is that the team that makes the most big plays will win. Tomlin calls them “splash” plays and we have seen many on both sides of the ball by us and our opponents.
    This is apparently the biggest change in Pitt Football. No more three yards and a cloud of dust.

    This will obviously carry forward this week.

    Each of the last two games came down to the last big play won the game.

    Both teams have the weapons on offense to make big plays. Obviously the team that makes the most will win.

    I think UNC is better than PSU or OK ST with fewer weaknesses than either.

    Since it is a conference game much more at stake.

    Pitt will have to play a much better game than the last two to win this one. It sets the table for the rest of the year.

    If the offensive line finally plays up to its abilities for four quarters and Peterman has a good game, Pitt can win.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening yet.

    Pitt loses another heartbreaker 38-35.

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  4. I was going to go with the “over” but I now see Carolina keeping 11 defenders within 7-8 yards from the LOS.. Our jet sweep option is far less effective … Duzz reverts to his 2nd half defense that we saw vs OSU to throttle the Heels explosiveness…much lower score than most expect in this era .. 2 of the best return men in the nation on display in Switzer and Henderson .. Heels 28 -Pitt 24 ..

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  5. What I would really like to see is Peterman and the O-line with a final winning drive for a field goal or TD as time runs out. Until that happens, I don’t see us taking the next step.

    To be a leader in the ACC, Pitt needs to win 2 of 3 vs UNC, Miami, and Clemson.

    Otherwise we return to middle of the pack.

    They are all on the road, so what are the chances?

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  6. I think that we dominate from the start. Our run game continues to be great. Our defensive line gets to the UNC QB repeatedly. We win 42 — 16

    H2P

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  7. On the season predictions I had Pitt going 9-3 (with loses to OSU, Clemson, and “one more”). I think NC will be the “one more”. We are clear underdogs (-6), away game, coming off of the OSU lose which clearly showed all of our weaknesses. Will take more than 6 days to get them all ironed out.
    Hoping we win/Expecting to lose:
    NC: 42
    Pitt: 38

    Pittman4ever
    #H2P

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  8. Hold on, just level setting.

    Did Pitt really play four solid quarters against Penn State? They were outscored 25-14 in the second half. Penn State dropped a touchdown pass and later literally threw away an opportunity for a winning TD or tying FG on their final drive.

    UNC has one loss on the season. It was to now 11th ranked Georgia at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. UNC lost by 9. Georgia pulled the game out in the fourth quarter by scoring 10 unanswered. OSU lost to Central Michigan at home. UNC soundly beat Illinois (B1G) on the road and James Madison (FCS) at home. On that basis I don’t see how UNC is a huge step down from OSU.

    Pitt loses 38-31.

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  9. Not sure which way this one will go. NC has another good QB that can pass and run. They have a real good RB and a couple of decent WRs. It will be hot; looking like 90 degrees at game time. The game is away. NC had an easier game last week and so may be a bit more rested. But, I’m picking Pitt in a close one: Pitt 35 NC 31

    Note that I was wrong on both PSU and OK St. so bet the opposite of me.

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  10. Prediction: Pitt fans Meltdown Alert

    UNC 30 Pitt 28 – Pitt clinging to a 28 – 27 lead late in the 4th quarter will give the ball to Ollison to ice the game, who will promptly fumble at midfield leading to a short drive and a long field to win the game. Pitt fans who pleaded all week to give him the ball will do a 180 and say Canada/Narduzzi need to be held accountable for that decision (collective heads on this blog will explode from the absurdity). Further prediction…despite the loss and complete fan meltdown Pitt will gather themselves and not lose another game until Clemson. H2P!!

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  11. Pitt 21

    UNC 35

    UNC is the best team Pitt has faced all season and the defensive scheme problem remains the same due to a lack of a execution?

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  12. I am going with the upset. Pitt 42 UNC 38. Conner has two TD’s one rushing and one receiving. Orndorf gets a receiving and Ollison gets 2. Blewett gets two field goals. We hold UNC two 2 rushing and the rest receiving, one field goal.

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  13. I have just received the “prizes” in the mail so this game prediction thread is for somting wonderful… and I’ll send them to the first three winners also.

    I may have to ask for home addresses. ..

    Lots of interesting and honest picks so far.

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  14. I know no one will believe this but I almost typed in my prediction last week that the game would end in a tie due to being stopped by weather/lightning. While that didn’t hold true, it was darn close. And while I don’t think any hurricanes are in play this week, I think our chance of winning rests greatly on our ability to come out fast and smack them in the mouth and knock them down like a hurricane would – and then continue to pour it on while they’re down. If we don’t and get behind early, I think it’s over.
    BUT…..

    Pitt 34
    UNC 32

    Hall or Moss score a TD.

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  15. Pitt wins by a late Blewitt 40+ yard FG. 41-38.

    Oh, I love the uniform combo this week. It’s the combo I’ve looked forward to most just above gold helmet, white jersey and blue pants.

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  16. The last 3 games vs UNC have all been close loses, this time we get a close win. New Tarheel QB from Northeast Ohio will make a Browns-like mistake in the 4th quarter-Maddox redeems himself with game winning pick-and we hang on to a 31-27 victory.

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  17. Listened to XM84 College FB and Lou Holtz was on and and stressed what a great advantage it was for OSU last week being the home team during the long delay. Familiarity, better locker room, more access to the facilities and even having a meal brought in were all things he mentioned.

    A week before, we gave up a lot of yardage to a 1st year starter, last week we gave up a lot of yardage to a senior QB, but since we lost last week, the world came to an end.

    I’m calling the upset here because I’m biased 28-26

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  18. He may’ve had a voodoo Panther somewhere. So long as he didn’t pass it along to the new starter, I think Pitt’s in the clear. They got this one.

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  19. Reed, not sure I understand the stat towards the end of you article above that we have been scored on 37 of 38 times in the red zone. Over what period of time?

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  20. Sept 15 1973, Nov15 1975, Oct 20 1979 and Dec 1 2007 are the dates of previous statement games that indicated Pitt was for real in moving to the next level. This Tarhole game has the same smell as those games. Last week I predicted a loss at OSU and a signature win vs the Tarholes. I’m sticking with that ..Pitt 24-20. All streaks come to an end eventually. We gain some fresh animosity and a new rival. Dairy princesses .. irrelevant.

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  21. PS While I think this game proves we are a level above our previous mid tier ACC capabilities we still only go 1-2 in the NC, Clemson, Miami big games this year.

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  22. Make sure you fill up your tank before you get to Chapel Hill… There has been a gasoline shortage in the area due to the broken gas line down south…

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  23. So while Narduzzi has had some nice wins, GT, Duke, Louisville, PSU, he is yet to have a signature win.

    This would be one against one of the favorites in the Coastal standing in the way of a Coastal Championship, if there is such a thing.

    The type of win you need to get over the next hump.

    Would be an upset, not a great big one, but meaningful to Pitt Fans and the ACC.

    A loss puts us at 2-2 and makes an 8 win season much more difficult, and the Coastal near impossible.

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  24. Pitt41 North Carolina35 We are due We are going to win We are getting whitehead and Henderson big plays Orndoff TD and one on defense. Big win start to roll to ACC CHAMPIOnSHIp

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  25. A lower scoring game than most predict: 28-17 Pitt.

    Maddox, an up and down player, is up this week and gets a pick deep in UNC territory.
    Orndoff has 5 catches and 1 TD.
    Ollison gets the rock about 10 times and has a TD.
    Henderson scores on a jet sweep following a big kickoff return.
    Connor runs for 125yds and a TD
    Peterman goes 12-17 no picks and a TD.

    Trubisky gets sacked 6 times, fumbling twice.
    Hood gets 75 yards, most of it in garbage time.
    My obnoxious UNC buddies eat Fedora’s fedora.

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