It’s game day tomorrow and what do you think will happen? Is there a major upset in the making down in Death Valley or do the two teams play to form and Clemson wins at home?
On second thought that ‘playing to form’ in Pitt’s case is a bit confusing as there is two ways to look at Pitt’s form. Will we play like we did in the first half of the season when we were 4-2 with a productive offense and a great rushing defense?
Maybe we’ll play more like we have in our last three games where we are 2-1 and lost the last two by a combined score of 90-64. As in all sports no one really knows what will happen until it happens… but I think it will be a tough outing for our Panthers.
Here are some head to head match ups between the two teams:
You can see by this chart that where Clemson really shines in on the defensive side of the ball with them giving up only 15.7 ppg. Remember Miami gave up only 18 ppg prior to last week’s match with Pitt.
The oddsmakers have spoken… are still speaking actually, but they have the ‘best’ Pitt spread as Pitt +21 points which leads them to think this will be the final score:
That is a 20.6 deficit and by far the largest ‘underdog’ status we have been all year.
But it isn’t an unreasonable score given the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two teams. Broken record that this is but the match up of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson at QB with his very good passing skills combined with JR WR Mike Williams with his 6’3″ height and his receiving skills (52 catches for 754 yards and five TDs) against our porous pass defense is a train wreck waiting to happen.
Here are Williams’ stats:
That is only the outbound train though. On the other track we have WR Deon Cain (6’1″) who is very productive in yards per catch as he averages 20.4 ypc along with scoring eight TDs. Here is Cain’s stat line:
Combined those two and they average 16.3 ypc every time they grab a pass. That is rather awesome.
As I wrote earlier the only silver lining I see with the passing situation tomorrow is Watson’s 10 INTs to date. If we can get two or three INTs and/or fumbles and maybe a Pick-6 out of him then we may have a fighting chance to keep the game closer than Clemson would like going into the 4th quarter.
Here is a quick video of some college football guys talking about the large point spread and if Pitt will beat it or not. I have no idea how much credibility to put on them but they make some interesting points:
The truth hurts sometimes and is spoken at the 0:57 mark of this video when discussing Pitt’s play so far this season. “Something is wrong with the coaching, poor clock management and mental errors…” Well, that isn’t too far off base, is it?
But he goes on to later say “Pat Narduzzi has no hold on that team” of which I disagree strongly.
Narduzzi’s game day coaching is suspect, his relationship with his players is not… at least in my opinion. These kids love playing for him. But if we are honest in our views about the Pitt football program and what we have seen from the team so far this season we have to accept that it really did look like both the staff and the players threw up their hands in surrender late in the last game we played.
The second bit of the video has another guy talking about how close the scores have been in Pitt’s previous three losses (before Miami) and he seems to think Pitt can beat the spread (21 points to Pitt) when the game is over.
I don’t doubt that could happen either – I don’t see two blowout losses in a row for Pitt. If that is to happen then there is something really wrong with our team and the staff. Losing two in a row? Yes, it sure can happen, especially when you are playing the #2 team in the nation and one that is perhaps the most well-balanced in both offense and defense.
But getting smeared by a huge margin in two consecutive weeks? I am hesitant to believe that will take place… but that might be my heart speaking here instead of my head.
Then again losing this game by 17 or fewer points will be considered a good day of sorts at the Pitt football office . Strange that is Obi Wan.
OK then – here is my prediction.
I feel that we will rebound in part from the Miami ass-kicking and play better than people are thinking we will. That is how I think we’ll play… Clemson might have an entirely different idea about that. I don’t think Pitt will benefit by any ‘overlooking’ of our team by Clemson’s players and staff – not this late in the season.
Clemson has an absolute legitimate chance to be in the championship playoffs and so they are going to be ready for us down there in Death Valley. They have been in this tense position as early as last season and they know what it takes to stay focused.
We’ll play hard but we will need all cylinders purring to get points on the board. If we can avoid allowing those quick-strike points teams have been putting up against us in the beginning of the games then I think we’ll be within spitting distance of winning after the 45:00 mark and going into the home stretch.
But if Watson tosses a couple of early TD passer as Miami’s Kaaya did…
…then it will be a long and hard uphill climb. All in all it comes down to what has been the decider all season – our passing defense’s play and because of that I can’t see us winning this game. So…
Clemson – 48 Pitt – 31
My History of the U.S. Coast Guard lecture went well last night. My daughter said she recorded it and if it is worth watching I’ll post it later on…