Bowl week is here, and I’ll trust you’ve had a fine Christmas if Christmas is the holiday you celebrate, or a fine few days off if it’s not.

Either way, it’s time to get back to football, and for all the rah-rah I’ve been dispensing of late, I’ve decided to strike a decidedly more sober tone leading up the bowl game.

The reason is because I’m not sure we can win.

The Stanford Cardinal is a good football team, people.  Sure you can look at the fact that Stanford lost four games, and the fact that their best running back is sitting this one out, and the fact that Stanford has the 120th ranked passing defense and convince yourself that we can match up pretty well against them.  But if you look a little deeper you’ll see that Stanford is an immensely talented team that caught a few bad breaks during the season, and they have the horses to beat Pitt badly.

But before we get into that, lets look back at Pitt’s Sun Bowl History.  If you haven’t read the excellent Brian Batko piece on the 2008 Sun Bowl, you should.  Batko’s piece gives you a peek behind the curtain of what can go wrong with these bowl games.  From players running amok early in the week (hopefully not a problem under Narduzzi) to bonehead game planning (historically a problem under Narduzzi) to lack of ability to adjust (most definitely a problem under Narduzzi).

Second, there is Pat Narduzzi’s bowl history.  Naruzzi’s 0-2 bowl game record is well-publicized.  First there was a blowout loss to Navy in 2015, and then the loss to a very beatable Northwestern team in the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl.  Only two data points, to be sure, but it’s all we have to go on.  So far this coaching staff not shown that they know how to prepare the team to win in the postseason, and I won’t believe they can do it until they show me.

Thirdly, there is the talent.  If you trust Rivals.com, then its clear that Stanford is loaded and Pitt is outclassed.

From 2014 – 2018 Stanford has posted the following Rivals.com recruiting ranks:  14, 18, 19, 19 and 57.  That is an average class rank of 27, and it would be top-20 without that abysmal 2018 ranking.  What’s more, Stanford has recruited no less than 37 four-and-five star recruits during that time period.  That is nearly enough for a two-deep.  And just in case you thought the 57th ranked 2018 class was a sign of drop-off, this year’s early signing class is ranked 20th.  Sure there has likely been some attrition over the years (there always is), but its safe to say there is a good base of talent for Stanford head coach David Shaw to work with.

Meanwhile, our Pitt Panthers have posted Rivals.com recruiting ranks of 44, 65, 29, 38 and 36 during 2014 – 2018.  That’s for an average class rank of 44.  Pitt has recruited 15 four-star recruits during that time period.  That is less than half of Stanford’s total.  Of the 15 four-star recruits we’ve recruited, seven of them are still on the team.  Two of the seven do not figure to make an impact in the Sun Bowl game (Freshman RB Mychale Salahuddin and 2nd-string rs Frosh RB AJ Davis).  That leaves five four-star recruits (at most) that could potentially contribute.

Advantage Cardinal.

Peeling the onion skin back, we see that Stanford’s offense is led by four-star Junior Quarterback KJ Costello and Wide Receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, a three-star recruit whose other major offers were Pitt, Michigan State, Wake Forest, Virginia, Maryland and App State (I believe Pitt was a finalist for his services in 2015).  This season is Arcega-Whiteside’s senior year, and he has developed past his three-star status nicely, having posted 969 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.  I may get shouted down for blasphemy but I’d like to point out that those are close to Larry Fitzgerald numbers folks.  Granted they are freshman-year Larry Fitzgerald numbers…but the point is that Whiteside is legit FBS talent.

QB KJ Costello has put the ball up nearly 400 times this year, and has thrown for 3400 yards.  He’s completed two-thirds of his passes and has tossed 29 TD’s.  Costello is consistently productive.  He’s thrown for less than 300 yards just four times in 12 games.  The four teams that held Costello under 300 yards were USC, Notre Dame, Cal (rivalry game), and inexplicably UC Davis.  Costello posted his lowest adjusted QBR of the year against UC Davis and my completely uninformed opinion is that Costello enjoyed a night out with his friends before taking on the only cupcake in their schedule.

Assuming he Costello doesn’t party it up with his teammates in Juarez the night before the Sun Bowl, its a safe bet to think that he will carve up a Pitt passing defense that finished the regular season ranked 73rd in the country.

The weapons Costello will use will be his top WR (Arcega-Whiteside) and his two excellent Tight Ends.

As I mentioned earlier, Arcega-Whiteside is a beast, and unless he breaks his leg he’ll likely eclipse 1000 yards for the season and probably catch two more touchdowns, which would give him 16 for the season.

The Tight Ends meanwhile have combined for oh just 1111 receiving yards and 9 TD’s.  They are both four-star talents, and they average 6′-6″, 246 lbs.  Shawn Watson should take note.  This is how you use the Tight End in a pro-style offense.

Junior Tight End Kaden Smith has caught 47 balls for 635 yards.  That was in 9 games.  Smith is apparently injured and is a game-week decision for the Sun Bowl, and he is backed up by 6-7 Sophomore Colby Parkinson who has 27 receptions for 476 yards and 7 (count ’em 7) TD’s on the season.  Considering our tallest LB or Defensive back is 6′ 2″ it is unlikely that Pitt will have an answer for either one of these guys.

On the other side of the ball, Stanford posts a respectable 38th ranked rushing defense.  The’ve held opposing teams to 3.9 YPC on the season, and 1491 yards.  That is just 0.2 YPC and 91 yards more than Notre Dame, so the Stanford front seven aren’t going to be pushovers.  If there is one thing going in our favor it’s that three of the four teams that have beaten the Cardinal have successfully pounded the rock.  Utah, Notre Dame and Washington each posted 43 or more rushing attempts and ran for 177 or more yards.    Stanford has given up just 22 rushing first downs in the last three games, but they have given up some yardage so there is a possibility that Pitt could exploit the Stanford run D.  There is an equal possibility that with two weeks to prepare and get healthy, Stanford shuts down a one-dimensional Pitt team.

Which brings us to The Cardinal’s achilles heel.  Their passing defense.  It is ranked 120th in the country and there are only 10 teams behind them.  On the surface that 120 ranking makes our 73rd ranked unit look like a bunch of All Americans back there.  But lets dive a little deeper.

Closer inspection reveals that Stanford has played solid pass defense in seven of their 12 games.  Stanford has given up 300+ yards just four times this season, and they also gave up 278 and 4 TD’s to Notre Dame.  So Stanford has had 5 “bad” pass defense games this year.  Below are the passing ranks of the four teams that threw on Stanford.

Oregon:  51 (346)

Notre Dame:  36 (278, 4 TD’s)

Arizona State:  53 (353)

Washington State:  2 (438)

UCLA:  68 (466 – New HC in 2018 and averaged 289 passing YPG over their last 5 games)

Want more proof that Stanford’s pass defense is not as bad as advertised?  Stanford gave up an average of 202 passing yards and less than 1 TD per game (.85 to be exact) against the 7 other teams on their schedule.

Pitt’s passing game ranks 121st.  We have thrown for over 300 yards exactly once – against Wake Forest.  Yes, that Wake Forest passing defense was ranked 119 (and remember Stanford is 120), so for those of you who want to hold out hope that Pickett finds his groove, by all means hold it out.  Wake gave up eight 280+ yard passing games and Wake’s roster is chock-full of two-and-three star recruits.  Odds are that Stanford plays decent against our bottom-of-the-barrel passing game and Pitt QB Kenny Pickett will post a very Pickett-esque stat line.  He’ll probably throw for around 150 yards passing with no TD’s, and I’m not sure if that will be enough to win.

So to wrap it all up, there are a lot of factors working against Pitt in this game.  In fairness, Pitt’s Sun bowl history is not an indicator of how they will perform this year and should simply be considered a bad omen.  Narduzzi’s bowl coaching record, on the other hand, is something tangible and concerning.  Additionally, Stanford has a ton of four star talent that Pitt just can not match.  Has Narduzzi successfully “coached ’em up”?  We’ll see but the results against top-tier teams this year have not been encouraging.  Last but not least the factors that appear to be in our favor, specifically Stanford’s defensive statistics, are not nearly as favorable as you’d think if you take the time to look a little closer.   Stanford can stop the run against solid teams, and they can most certainly defend the pass against mediocre teams.  If they are up to the task, the results for Pitt could be disastrous.

Sorry folks I wish I could strike a cheerier tone, but I’m not going to be bamboozled.  Narduzzi is always going to talk the talk; I’m just not convinced he can walk the walk, at least this time.  The Nard-Dawg loses yet another bowl game, and it’s probably not going to be close.  Stanford 41, Pitt 28.

Hail to Pitt and please feel free to prove me wrong.

Michaelangelo

251 thoughts on “Black Hole Sun: Previewing the 2018 Sun Bowl

  1. Mike, another great job and I’m afraid I agree with you regarding the potential outcome of the game.

    I think the only things that we can hope for are that maybe we want this game more than they do and that our rebuilt O-line is ready and the power running game is back and that we can take advantage of their supposed poor pass defense. I would say that Pitt certainly needs this win more than Stanford, but we are going to need a lot of luck, which hasn’t been our forte.

    While another bowl loss shouldn’t be a huge setback, because it is pretty much expected, a win could really help set a more positive tone for the program.

    Like

  2. Just got done taking an extensive walk and on my way back, I saw a new cream-colored Volvo XC90 (I think) with a front license plate that seemed to blend into the car color with a navy blue Pitt script written on it. It turned on Westminster Lane in Cranberry.

    If that is owned by a POVer, then 2 large thumbs up.

    Like

  3. Mike, best article out of a lot of good ones that you have published so far.

    I agree with your take on the matchup. We’ll be chasing their receivers all afternoon. I doubt Pickett and our OL is going to surprise anyone in the passing game.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. If Pitt wins will the Kool Aid Drinkers say “What a HUGE win” for Narduzzi and the Program?

    And should Pitt lose will they simply blow it off as a MEANINGLESS exhibition?

    So many questions, so little time!

    Like

  5. Comparing Stanford and Pitt can be futile, on or off the field. While Pitt is a very good school academically (no doubt), Stanford is listed in the Top 10 annually.

    And speaking of being highly ranked, Stanford is no stranger in football for the past decade or so. In fact, they began the year ranked 13th, got as high as 7th, before faltering. So at 8 and 4, this is considered a down year … compare that to Pitt.

    Also, Stanford has a 50k on-campus stadium, and is in a state where the college prospects are plentiful … playing in clearly the best college FB conference on the west coast.

    Like

  6. Whereas the Navy game was just a disaster it seemed like Pitt clearly should have beaten Northwestern in the the Pinstripe Bowl 2 years ago. Karma however had other plans. Here is hoping that Karma balances itself out this year and although Stanford should win on paper, some hidden vigorish will be at work to help Pitt out in this game!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great work Mike. Obvious the hard you put into it. I have to say it does seem very familiar.

    Question, how many of those 37, 4 and 5 stars will be playing meaningful minutes next Monday?

    I see the good teams listed that passed on Stanford but I don’t see the names of the teams that Stanford had success against with their passing defense.

    When did two games become a coaches history?

    Like

  8. Bowl games are important for a team’s and coaches legacy

    The Penn State Nittany Lions football have competed in 48 bowl games compiling a record of 29–17–2 (.630). The Nittany Lions hold a 15–6–1 record in the major bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton).

    Coach Joe Paterno was responsible for most of these bids and victories, compiling more wins, 24, and appearances, 37, than any other coach in college football history, with a bowl record of 24–12–1 (.662). Paterno also had a record of 13–4–0 in “major” bowls. Paterno is one of only two coaches in history to have competed in and won all five major bowls with the other being Bob Stoops of Oklahoma.

    Like

    1. Paterno also looked the other way when Sandusky was molesting young boys on the psu campus. Many of those bowl victories should have been forfeited, and were at one point in the very recent history. But for some reason, the NCAA reversed that ruling.

      Hmmm…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Mike….spent a good bit of time with this bowl matchup and could not agree with you more. We are outmanned at all but one position on both lines. I had written this off as another huge loss for Pitt until I saw this….today’s betting line is 5.5. Down from 8.5. That’s a huge line move! I have a feeling with absolutely no logic behind it, that Pitt pulls out this win! Say 33-28. God knows, Pittsburghers could use one of their teams winning a big game.

    Like

  10. Two bowl games are not history while the coach is still active. It’s factual and all but to say it’s history when another bowl game is on the horizon is to be played in 3 days? 3 bowl losses in row will definitely be a trend though. This game is a big one for Narduzzi and PITT, no doubt about that.

    How many 4* players committed to PITT by Narduzzi and are no where to be found right now on the PITT roster? No way Standford will field 37, 4 and 5* players playing meaningful minutes on Monday.

    Like

  11. When did the explosion of bowl games take place?

    Hate to sound like an old fogy but I really miss the days when New Year’s Day Bowl games really meant something and all were worth watching.

    But time marches on. Really like to see an eight game playoff with the rest of the bowl games structured with no conference affiliations and the number 9 through whatever earning their way into the rest of the bowls based on a formula and not politics or economics.

    Like

  12. Well that certainly was a depressing read Mike. Even though you may be right about the talent level disparity between Pitt and Stanford I do believe you well see a different Pitt team next Monday versus what you saw against Miami and Clemson. Let’s hope I’m right and your wrong on this score Pitt 31 Stanford 21.

    Like

  13. Calling posters kool-aid drinkers makes me laugh. You mean the ones that suggested to give Narduzzi four years and see if he can win the ACC Coastal division? << Yeah they’re crazy………

    Like

    1. Yep, Ike I was just going to post the same. I believe Narduzzi is meeting the press some time this afternoon so I’m sure the question about Ford will be front and center. Sickness or a possible transfer in the making.

      Like

  14. Mike, another informative, educational write-up.
    Every time I predict a Pitt win they lose, so to reverse my luck, Stanford 30, Pitt 14. We might go to a local game watch where I can share the misery. Forgive me, fellow POVers, but I’m rooting for ND over tOSU for obvious reasons. Besides, We were treated very graciously in South Bend when we went there for a game.

    Like

  15. Gordon, I think the Pedo success in bowl games over the years was partly a result of the Nitters needing a win for respectability after a typically soft regular season schedule. I didn’t go back and look at the schedules and bowl wins, but JoePa placed a very high priority on bowl wins to justify a high end of season ranking due to his soft schedules.

    As for the upcoming Pitt/Stanford game, I just don’t see Pitt winning this one after their performances against Miami and Clemson. I hope I’m wrong but Pitt needs to pass well to win, and does anyone here think that Pickett is going to suddenly turn things around after the Clemson embarrassment?

    Like

    1. Paterno was good at winning bowl games. He knew how to get prepared and keep his team up for the games. Of course he placed a high value on winning and bowl games were no exception. He may have been a self aggrandizing jerk who placed his football program over abused children, but he did know how to win.

      Like

  16. I can’t explain it, jrnpitt, but look how much he has regressed since then. I suspect Stanford has a stronger defensive line, and Pickett seems to rattle easily. Look for Stanford pressure to produce a turnover or two. If Pitt gets behind early, it could be pretty bad.

    Like

  17. Brian Batko@BrianBatko
    Pat Narduzzi says defensive backs Paris Ford (personal reasons) and Bricen Garner (disciplinary) are the only two players who did not make the trip to El Paso. Added they could still be here later in the week and are with the program.

    I may be wrong but this may be the first discipline action this year …. can’t remember any (But I’m getting old)

    Like

  18. as we Pitt fans have seen just in the last 2 seasons. you never know what Miami team is showing up. Well, with only 3 1/2 minutes played, they are losing to Wisconsin 14-0. First two plays from scrimmage, interception and fumble

    This should be an interesting match-up …. two pre-season Top 10 teams that finished 7-5.

    Like

    1. Let me add that I hope it is just a personal issue with Ford and the does go on to become a superstar at Pitt. We could sure use one. But so far it has been a mystery.

      Like

  19. A comment I posted last on the previous right prior to this new fantastic article by Mike.

    Major Majors (John) posted this comment. … “POVers — Please make a New Year’s resolution to count your blessings and not take them for granted”.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    First off John, great advice and hope all is well with you and your family. Just like I wish for all the POVer’s and their families. Trouble comes and trouble goes but we can only control what we can control. In the meantime, we have to be thankful for what we do have.

    Want to mention Reed, the man who started this all. If it wasn’t for you Reed I wouldn’t know so many of these fine people that I’ve come to be friends with. True Friends! Thanks Reed and I wish you and your whole family a very Happy New Year!

    Speaking of blessings, It’s BigB’s birthday today!!!!!! Funny part is, he stopped by the house and he was the one bearing gifts. I have a handful of childhood friends I keep in touch with but the POV has opened up a whole other world for me and my wife. You just don’t meet people like this in the everyday world. Like Major Majors said.. Count your blessings and be thankful for what we have! ike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Didn’t they just make a movie staring Clint Eastwood called The Mule? Pretty kool.

      Mike – you hit the nail on the head with this article, but that’s why they play the game.

      Go Pitt!

      Like

  20. One thing missing from this article that also goes against Pitt is the coaching comparison – Shaw and his staff are heads above this current Pitt staff at this point in time. Duzz may improve in the next few years, but right now I give Stanford a big edge in coaching.

    Like

  21. Off topic for a moment, although someone is sure to bring this issue up.

    Let me clear something up, because it’s likely to come up in this thread somewhere While we did lose the Pinstripe Bowl to Northwestern two years ago, it wasn’t because we weren’t prepared to play. We played well in the first half. Some important players got injured, and we crumbled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you think?

      J Whitehead – did not play
      T Jarrett — played only 2 series
      S Soto — played only series
      J Conner — missed entire 2nd half
      D Johnson — missed entire 4th quarter plus a little of 3rd
      N Peterman — missed entire 4th quarter plus a little of 3rd

      All key players. I continue to contend that the coaching staff should be praised for keeping Pitt in the game until the end

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually that is a fair point wbb. Keep in mind we had both a different OC and DC at that point. For better or worse

        Like

    2. Hi Eric – I hope you had a great Christmas. My biggest concern right now with Pitt football is seeing how prepared they were to face miami and clemson. Yikes! Show up next Monday Lyke that in El Paso and we get smacked back to Pittsburgh with a big L on our foreheads.

      Northwestern was a whole other set of issues that we witnessed 2 years ago – lack of depth.

      Played golf today (without my 7 & 9 irons) for the last time in 2018. I’m driving to Erie to visit family for New Year’s. I hear there is lots of snow planned during our visit.

      Pitt needs to find a motivating factor to rally around Monday. Let’s win one for Fralic (#79)! Our OLine should challenge each other to pancake the tiny 3-4 front seven of the tree huggers.

      Go Pitt!

      Like

    3. We actually would have won if Ornoff had held onto the one Ben Dinucci pass that was on target. Dropped it right in the end zone.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Miami’s 4 turnovers so far surely hasn’t helped. Plus, Wisc has an All-American RB plus 4 OL that are projected to go in the first 2-3 rounds of the NFL draft according to the pre-game guys. (kind of wonder how they lost 5 games)

      Like

  22. Not entirely sure about your article here, MM. A tad sensational IMO.
    I see the stats, and what’s favorable to Pitt. I see what is not in their favor, too.
    I think I just have a provlem with your presentation of your posted article in this column.
    It’s kool to ignite conversations. I just think you’re pushing it a bit.
    Pitt wins by a touchdown @Sunbowl.
    —Neil

    Like

    1. I appreciate your opinion Neil. I agree my headline on Facebook was intentionally sensational but I stand behind the analysis. Of course Pitt CAN win (and I hope they do). I just think the odds are heavily stacked against them.

      Like

    2. To wit…I’ve changed the title on the fb post from “Pitt can’t won’t” to “Pitt won’t win”. Appreciate the feedback.

      Like

  23. I will be very disappointed if Pitt loses the bowl game. If we lose, I will not consider the season a success. Unfortunately I also do not believe Pitt will win, mostly due to our inability to shutdown good to excellent passing quarterbacks.

    Like

  24. Larry Fitz threw one more TD pass in (possibly) his last NFL game than KP threw in his last two college FB games.

    Think about that…

    Like

  25. John, you are right. Finishing the season with 3 losses is not characteristic of a good football team. It would certainly raise questions as to the direction of the program especially after the beat down Miami received today

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Great article Mike. I am afraid to be hopeful for this game, yet I will be dressed in my blue and gold and scraping my head off the whole time. I also want to wish Bernie a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! H2P, and hopefully our young men will pull out a win and start 2019 on a high note!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. So is anyone going to El Paso? Seems like everyone shot their wad for Charlotte. I can’t imagine many pitt fans will be there. I will not be there. Will be in a bar in SOHO in NYC watching the game.

    Like

    1. Watson didn’t help him either. Nor did the o line. I ran into a couple of locals after we left the rooftop place and I believe their exact comment was ‘Your quarterback isn’t bad, you just have to give him some time’.

      Like

  28. After reading MM’s report, I wish the Panthers had gotten an even crappier bowl game against someone we could beat. Though that would be a pretty limited field.

    Bleakness reigns in Pantherville! And rightly so.

    I suspect the Stanford TEs will run wild, since besides them being good, we have no pass-catching TEs to practice against…

    Bleak Pitt! ☹️

    Liked by 2 people

  29. MIKE,
    Very objective article and greatly appreciated! Thank you!
    ALSO, I may have some breaking news from El Paso. If anyone watched national news today one of the top stories was that the Border Patrol released a large number of illegal immigrants temporarily until their court dates. Video showed the crowds making their way to the El Paso Bus Station. On one clip I could of sworn I saw Duzz recruiting next to the Greyhound Bus sign offering scholarships. I’m sure he figures with how well some of these potential recruits can climb, jump, swim, and run there has to be a hidden gem in there somewhere that he can coach up!!!! #H2P

    Liked by 1 person

  30. FWIW. I think I read somewhere that Pitt will wear matte blue helmets. Is Pitt the home or visiting team? Anyone know? White uniforms or all navy? I just don’t like the blue helmets. Pitt will need skill and a lot of luck to stay close, let alone win. Pitt did get a tough Power 5 opponent for its bowl game. Will make a win that much sweeter, to put a spin on it.

    Like

    1. I believe when they wear the blue matte helmets, it’s always with the white pants, I assume it will be with the blue shirts since they are home team

      Like

  31. The Miami papers and the fans are blasting Mark Richt, so much that the Miami AD had to make a statement of support. I have been telling you people that when it comes to ‘Pitting’ ….. head-scratching performances … Pitt is not even in the same country as The U. Especially when considering all the talent they have.

    They have been doing this now since they left the BE under 4 different coaches.

    Like

    1. Pick Six Previews@PickSixPreviews

      4/5-star recruits on roster:
      34- Miami
      7- Wisconsin

      Player Development, Coaching, Scheme, Motivation, Discipline. All on display tonight

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Dang if only we could have held onto Paul Chryst. In all seriousness though Wisconsin is one of the handful of programs that consistently outperforms their recruiting ratings each year. I hope that Pitt becomes one as well. Right now they are not.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Narduzzi tried to keep Rudolph at Pitt who knows what would have happened. We wouldn’t have had Peterman or Canada’s one year wonder. I saw a recent poll that said fans want Watson to go, so four years later lots of questions on offense. Rudolph probably would have done a lot to keep the offensive line pipeline going, he was a strong local recruiter too.

          Liked by 1 person

  32. Lamenting the loss of Paul Chryst is a waste of ones lamenting. When Anderson up and left Wisconsin it became a forgone conclusion that PC would take his place. In fact it was a foregone conclusion Chryst would leave PITT first chance he got and he did.

    Hate to sound like an uniform snob but I just can’t stand those blue helmets and worse the white pants. YUK! PITT is the home team is this is what they chose to wear? Another blown opportunity for PITT.

    Michaelangelo has been a God-send to the POV. Great article with some great research involved, after reading it I did have to double check the bottom to make sure it was Mike writing it though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Bowl game thoughts…the ACC is 2-0 against the AAC, and 0-2 against the B10. TCU had 28 passing yards in their bowl game. Hope Pitt can compete…

    Like

    1. No, he’s making an example out of University of Miami & Coach Richt, bowl games are all about preparation, and historically well coached teams have an advantage after a month off. Kudos to coach Chryst.

      Like

  34. I don’t think anyone is lamenting Chyrst leaving Pitt, but Wisconsin just crushed Miami who crushed us so comparisons are inevitable. It is also fair to say that winning the Coastal is looking like a relatively small achievement in the grand scheme of college football and will even look smaller if we get crushed by Stanford.

    Our appearance in the top twenty five is a distant memory and we are dropping like a heavy anchor in a deep ocean. So while our trajectory is up when compared to last year, we appear to be treading water since Wanny left.

    We need a win and a couple senior O-line transfers.

    Like

  35. Isn’t it something how Chryst became a good coach when he moved to Wisconsin? Note that Wisconsin has had seven 10-win seasons in the last 10 years; Pitt has had one in 35.

    Don’t get me wrong. Chryst is a good coach but he was also born (and groomed) to coach there. Also note that his predecessor (who averaged 10 wins at UW) completely tanked at Oregon St

    Like

    1. Chryst is an average Game Day Coach. I was clear in my criticism of his Game Day MISCUES during his time at Pitt.

      But what he proved here and now in Madison is being REALLY good at is identifying Kids with UPSIDE.

      He’s also a GREAT Guy who both Coaches and Players LOVE to be associated with.

      As for his success at Wisconsin, I would agree he is MOST comfortable there. But he was comfortable at Pitt too.

      The difference probably is the predominance of the Program when it comes to recruiting Kids in Wisconsin and the proximity to the major recruiting HUB of Chicago. And the attraction to Recruits for the opportunity to play at Camp Randall in front of an incredibly LOYAL Fan Base including maybe the most HERALDED Student Body in College Football.

      Like

    2. I agree Chryst was a piece that they plugged into a formula at Wisconsin. His job is to sustain success not engineer a turnaround. Wisconsin fans don’t have to worry until Barry Alvarez starts to lose his juice

      Like

  36. Whisky plays in a Coastal like division
    And schedules an easy OOC
    So all it has to do is win 4 OOC and 5 conference games (go 5-3)
    Win your bowl and you have 10 wins

    Pitt on the other hand schedules a killer OOC
    But does play in the weaker ACC division
    But also cant win bowl games

    It really isnt that difficult to get a 10 win season…except for Pitt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pitt developed the Polio vaccine and would probably find a cure for Cancer before they won 10 football games ever again. Thats what 40 years of not caring about football gets you. The level of gross incompetence and apathy is amazing.

      If Pitt’s medical program was this bad, they would have started the zombie apocalypse by now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. but wait tex, we finished first in our division.. thats almost like winning the acc or the national championship right?? in fact, its like winning the superbowl or stanley cup!!

        Like

  37. Wisconsin wasn’t all that good this year and would have been worse if they played PITT’s OOC schedule

    They played, Western Kentucky, New Mexico and BYU who they lost to.

    Like

  38. BTW, Gerald Willis didn’t play last night for Miami among a few others. Bowl games are getting more meaningless every year. I see changes in the not to distant future.

    Like

  39. Would be interesting to see how Chryst would have done w Heather as AD. We can never forget that his exit interview led to Steve Pederson’s firing, something we all should be eternally grateful to him for.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. As to the question of why the SURPISING down year for Wisconsin… it really was problems at Quarterback.

    First it was Starter Hornibrook having his difficulties. Then Hornibrook was forced to miss Games due to a head injury. This included missing the Pinstripe with continuing concussion-like symptoms.

    Backup Jack Coan really was BAD his first couple of times out. Not “8 Yards” bad. But pretty bad.

    Although not anything great, last night he did show he’s made some progress.

    Like

  41. Well folks no matter what happens in the Sun it can’t be as bad as the hurting that Auburn is putting on those poor Purdue Boilermakers. 42 – 7 after 20 mins…

    Like

    1. If you look closely at the matchup as you did, it could be every bit that bad! Still today the betting line is down again…. to 4.5. That’s a huge move. Someone knows something.

      Like

  42. I watched a YouTube reel of college football amazing finishes and I have to say. . The one team that stood out as SoP more than any is Tennessee.

    Like

  43. Thought Ford made more blunders than good plays…on the rare occasions he saw the field.
    And like someone else said, when we get the rare 4-star, they more often than not turn out to be all sizzle and no steak.
    Finally, would much rather have Paul leading the team…especially as we face another non-winning season.

    Like

  44. Rudolph – I plugged him early for the head coach position instead of Narduzzi because of his local ties for recruiting and he seemed to be tied in to some bigger, named coaches from the nfl. He seemed to be able to get into the heads of OL recruits. Oh well. We got who we got. Let’s play ball.

    It is my impression that these bowl games are even more meaningless than before due to the best players often sitting out for fear of injury and draft status decline. Can’t blame the players. There are only a few players a year where a big drop in draft status actually comes into play.

    A new twist may be that some players stay away from the Bowl games so they are not drug tested again and the tests become public knowledge, thus hurting the draft stock of a player.

    With regard to academics, our athletes should never fail out of pitt due to all of the support they receive. If they fail out, it is their problem. If Ford is out for any other reason, it becomes just baffling. This mystery is right up there with the Hurley Hiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Ford is from where? Actually, that’s a good question but generally speaking somewhere in Western Pa. Narduzzi and PITT may occasionally get a 4* commit from out of the immediate area but to expect that to happen regularly is simply just naive. << That is until when and if Narduzzi can continue to turn the PITT football program around and win and or compete for the ACC Coastal Championship.

    To blame Narduzzi for recruiting and landing a 4* recruit and the recruit fails just tells on oneself. That said, I’m not so sure Ford is done at PITT just yet?? I’m not one to jump to conclusions when I do not know the whole story. Which at PITT, we may never know the whole story unless an insider coughs up some privy info. Say what you want to about Pat Narduzzi but he is no rat.

    BTW, I know it’s probably just me but is anyone else willing to admit his tone/attitude has made a slow turn towards the better? . . .. ike

    Like

  46. There’s 2 kind of teams in bowl games:
    – Quality teams who have legit high draft picks who decide to not jeopeardize their NFL careers.
    – Teams who have no NFL high draft picks and desperately need to win their bowl game to get some good press, momentum, and better recruits for the future.
    Guess which one Pitt is? (I’ll give everyone one guess). :>)

    Like

  47. This is what happens when a player declines to play. I previously thought that a player should look out for himself regarding the NFL draft, but now I’ve changed my mind. I think that it is not fair to the other teammates when a player puts himself above team. I’m certainly no hoopies fan, but when the QB walks it is like thumbing their nose at their teammates. Football is a risky sport and players know that when they sign up to play.

    Like

  48. PoD, you JoeL st coined a new response for the lowest of lows… Lastrow-“ How you doing Biggie?” BigB responds, “ I’m 8 yds bad!!!”

    Like

  49. Safe travels back home Mr BiggieB and get those PITT tailgate parties ready for Monday.

    A little concerned about the upcoming game but I’m going to have to roll with the PITT Panthers.

    Like

    1. Bielma’s record at Wisc 68-24; then at Arkansas 29-34 (11-29 in SEC)

      Gary Anderson’s record a Wisc 20-7; the his record at Ore St 7-23

      Like

          1. Why not? He has a winning record at mediocre Pitt. And before you tell me that he used Chryst’s players, how do you think Chryst got to that record at Wisc?

            Fact is most of Chrysts’ success at Wisc the first few years at UW was his Top 10 defense …. his defense’s was higher rated than his offenses. He didn’t recruit them. Of course, the fact that the B10 West has n offensive juggernauts also helped.

            Like

  50. Cudos to cuse with their win over the hoopies last night. Hard to say that when you dislyke a team, but when the hoopies are the other team, it’s a no brainer. With that win, Dino Babers has elevated cuse to a 10 win team in just three short years. Pitt will be attempting to win their 8th game in four seasons vs Stanford on Monday.

    There are two distinct differences between cuse and Pitt – scheduling is one that is undeniable. The other is the fact that Babers had head coaching experience and success prior to his hire at cuse. Narduzzi had NONE and is learning on the job. That (IMO) was a huge mistake by the Pitt administration and has been their MO for over three decades with very few exceptions and hardly any success.

    I walked away for a minute at the start of the miami vs wisconsin game and came back to a 14-0 score. I feel the same may happen Monday with Pitt – when I listened to the Duzz on his post practice interview from Friday, he himself said the team was lax and just seemed to be going through the motions on Thursday. He (Duzz) had to rev their motors on Friday, instigating fights amongst players and push guys to practice harder. Something is not right in El Paso.

    With this game being on New Year’s Eve and I’m traveling to visit family, I may need to El Paso on this bowl game – I’ll be juggling my interests for entertainment options. One thing is for sure, there will be no golf in snow covered Erie for this Pitt fan. Wait, did someone mention an indoor golf simulator?

    Hmmm…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I actually thought Cuse would have an easier time because of WVU’s QB bailing out on them. Shouldn’t have taken until the 4th quarter Orange to separate from them.

      If rankings is that much important, then obviously Pitt needs to schedule like them. Cuse’s best win this year was vs Boston College, Yes, they gave Clemson a good game but Clemson’s QB was injured and that the first week after their previous starting QB (Bryant) had left the team.

      Maybe Pitt will have one of these magic years when everything falls in place. (instead of having to play UCF right when they became a Top 10 team; imagine getting to play PSU back in 2013-14 when Christian Hackenburg was QB)

      Like

  51. Like Ike I am concerned about the game and like Erie I feel something is not quite right in El Paso.
    Come Monday afternoon I will either feel a bit better or worse…a third butt kicking will leave an awful taste.
    Hopefully Heather can push for the appropriate changes if deemed necessary.
    Safe travels to the birthday boy!

    Liked by 1 person

  52. It is really hard to feel any confidence at all after the last two games and another average recruiting class.

    Now hearing that the kids aren’t focused, that definitely is on the coaches. I remember Johnie and Jackie wanting to keep the kids loose before bowl games, but not in the practices. Most coaches agree that you play how you practice.

    The only thing that matters is total wins, great to get the occasional upset, but that doesn’t cut it in the long run. Schedule one tough OOC game per year and join the group with nine or ten wins a year, on a regular basis. Kids want to play on a winning team. Of all the obstacles to better recruiting, that is the easiest to fix.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Everything MM wrote is spot on. So what will that tell us if Pitt wins? This is a rhetorical question now but a real one if Pitt does win. The title of that article – win or lose – should be “Does Pat Narduzzi Know What He’s Doing?”

    Like

    1. …part 2. Somebody already wrote it. If they win then maybe he does. I’d be thrilled if he proved me wrong. Based on the noise coming out of El Paso doesn’t sound like he’s on track to do it though

      Like

  54. Hard to believe that with all that senior leadership that the kids are just going through the motions. Don’t they get that for most of them this is their last shot at glory? This is what they will be remembered for, and what they remember? How do they not realize that this is what they worked so hard for all those years and it will be all over soon? Are they beaten down so badly by the last two games that they can’t get up off the mat or do they have pro aspirations and are afraid to get hurt? Or is the coach just creating an excuse for an upcoming beat down? Whatever, it sure doesn’t smell right. Maybe I am over-reacting, but shouldn’t a coach be saying we are really having good practices, are fired up and can’t wait for the game.

    Like

  55. PITT is still in the stage of their process where the games are all about the match-up. PITT did overcome some bad match-ups last year when the opponents did not have a talent advantage but they got crushed by teams with the proverbial 4 and 5* players or the spread the field type team. I’m not in the camp that PITT’s recruiting has been all that bad. Not saying it’s been real good by any stretch but all things considered I understand why PITT falls into place like they do. Narduzzi will not be able to lure in 4 and 5* recruits from out of the area, well at least not right now. He will have to do it like Wisconsin does it and that is picking the 3* players with the most upside.

    Having said that…… still scratching my head to figure out if Standford is a good, bad or indifferent match-up. What I also don’t know if their QB likes to run the ball all that much? If he isn’t mobile I think PITT can pressure him. …. . .. . …ike

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Hey Reed K, Allderdice is a basketball school!

    They put a whooping on Butler last night to raise their record to 7-2. (note that Butler has the best basketball prospect in Western PA — a Rivals 4-star junior)

    Like

  57. if i were coach, i’d do various unexpected things in this game. make it fun for the players. entertain the fans. it doesnt matter if Pitt loses. a win is another 8 win season…nothing special. No chance of being ranked.

    fans and players will remember certain ‘big’ and ‘unusual’ plays more than a win. my goal would be to get on Sportscenters top 10.

    Like

  58. Wisconsin has a winning formula which starts with Big Corn Fed offensive linemen and a solid running game.
    When they get lucky with the likes of the Watt brothers they are very competitive. The other fact is that other than Ohio State and Michigan, other B1G teams are not juggernauts.

    Still trying to figure out what Narduzzi’s winning formula is. His defensive system has been a bust and he had one great year of offense with Canada and Chryst’s stockpile of offensive players. His biggest achievement’s have been an upset vs Clemson and a Coastal Title against a pretty average bunch. We were destroyed by PSU, UCF, Miami and Clemson, with a good showing vs ND.

    This is why the Bowl game is so important a win makes the arrow point up for the season, a loss points that arrow solidly downward.

    Like

    1. Gordon Conn, you’re another one. You credit Chryst for Narduzzi’s offensive success but blame Narduzzi for his defensive failures. That is NOT fair!

      Like

      1. While I would agree early on Narduzzi did not have the players he did on defense that he was left on offense, he has now completed his fourth year. While his defense has improved somewhat his offense has slipped badly. To me it is all about recruiting. Chryst left the offensive side well stocked except for QB.

        Narduzzi is supposed to be a defensive star. So far we have not seen it, and the offense has fallen off for the last two years and doesn’t look promising with a brand new O-line next year.

        Next year we have 100% Narduzzi recruits so we shall see.

        Like

        1. GC… Totally on board with your comments. It was WWB that I was questioning.

          I think you have spelled out very clearly why it is appropriate to credit Chryst and criticize Narduzzi relative to Offense and Defense.

          Let’s also not forget the miracles Chryst worked with the Quarterback formerly known as Tino. Can only imagine what he could do with Pitt’s current QB.

          Like

          1. Chryst obviously gets a lot more support at Wisky than he did at Pitt. But he and Rudolph have been excellent offensive recruiters and good game day coaches. His record shows it. He hasn’t been able to recruit star QB’s for some reason, maybe because he favors the running game.

            But we were all sold on Narduzzi being all that as a defensive coach and so far I don’t think he has matched on defense what Chryst did on offense.

            I think it is a fair question of whether Narduzzi would be as successful as Chryst if he would have got the Wisky job? A lot of it depends on Coordinators. He is on his third OC and his second DC. Chryst has had a number of DC’s but all have been good.

            One final thought, Pitt is not Wisky and never will be. They have a whole state and Chicagoland to recruit from. Also Camp Randall is a very special place, with no Pro teams to compete with or other schools that share their footprint.

            Liked by 1 person

  59. Anyone who thinks that what Chryst has won at Wisconsin is only because of the ‘system’ there is kidding themselves.

    Many huge ‘system’ programs have stretches of multiple seasons of poor play after a HC change…just ask Texas, Tennessee, Florida State, etc. Happens all the time.

    That could have happened at UW also but Chryst kept that from taking place and made the program thrive. Only Pitt fans could look at their 28-23 HC and call him better than a 42-14 ex-HC.

    To say nothing about that ex-HC having won four straight bowl games including a rout over a Miami team that just kicked our ass.

    For Chryst 2018’s 8-5 record is a down year at UW…for Pitt and Narduzzi that is the best it will ever get under this HC.

    Liked by 2 people

  60. It was a down year for Chryst especially when you consider the easy OOC schedule Western Kentucky, New Mexico and a loss to BYU. Plus don’t give that their conference schedule was any better than the ACC coastal cause it wasn’t. Rutgers, Illinois. Iowa, Nebraska and Purdue they all beat. Lost to every decent team on their schedule.

    Like

    1. I wasn’t comparing losses Reed and the scores of them but comparing schedules and how easy Wisconsin’s was compared to PITT. You always told me a loss is a loss and the margin of points doesn’t mean a thing.

      Like

  61. People like to compare Wisky and PITT which is fair to a point but when we do…. let’s also compare how much money each school allows for the entire coaching staff and each others football stadiums and the atmosphere of each. In reality, there is a lot of gray area when comparing the teams a notch below the bigger football schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. Potatoe Paulie is being paid comparable to Meatball Head. I dont think the ‘Pitt is Cheap’ excuse flies anymore. Yes – Heinz sucks compared to Camp Randall. But its not like Whisky is substantially out-recruiting Pitt.

    Paulie was a mediocre coach at Pitt. He’s a better ‘fit’ for Whisky and for whatever reason, he is doing very well there. Good for him.

    Pitt is now stuck with a Dog with Fleas and with Meatballs for Brains. He is supposed to be a defensive guru. Yet his defenses are terrible. He’s supposed to be a Yinzer. Yet he comes across as an arrogant prick.

    I told y’all that Heather’s extension of the Dog was her worst mistake. Pitt is now paying Dog $3.5M annually for mediocrity. Pitt only paid Paulie $2M for the same results.

    So how does Pitt get to 10 wins and ranked come years end?
    Its with a new Coach

    Like

  63. then Dog needs to hire better assistants. If he went to his best bud Heather, she would find the money for him. Dog and Lyke are like peas in a pod.

    Like

  64. Happy Cuse won the game last night and all but to clarify a little. WVU was missing their starting QB who is pretty much their whole team. Two starting wide outs, two starting O-Lineman, lost a starting D-Back and others. Plus PITT beat them.

    Like

  65. Does anyone here remember who won the ACC Coastal Division this year? Does anyone here remember we had to replace 3 of the 5 starting OL this year and one of the two that remained moved from guard to tackle? Now I’m not trying to make any excuses for the this Pitt team who really performed poorly its last two games. But I don’t think many POVERs that post to this board (me included) really thought we had a snow balls chance in hell of winning the Coastal after the NC game. So I guess I’m saying that some credit must be given to Narduzzi for this season based on what transpired following our loss to PSU early on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OSU lost to Purdue by 29 and Purdue got crushed by the 8-5 (5th place the SEC West) Auburn team by a score so ridiculous they had to put subs in so it wasn’t 100-0 by the 4th quarter.

      So how tainted is Ohio State championship then?

      Like

  66. 7-7 and the ACC Coastal division championship is a better season than 99.9% of the preseason predictions I read including mine. 7 wins is better than 90% of the posters on the POV. << Me not included in that group.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Pitt will have played twelve (that’s right,12!) bowl teams this year and won a division championship where 6 out 7 teams went to bowls. No other team in CFB has played anywhere near that amount. I think 7-8 wins is remarkable for any team with that kind of schedule.

    Liked by 6 people

  68. Posting from the Pete. IMHO, we don’t recognize the impact of good/bad breaks, drop vs catch, interference call vs no call, etc. in the outcome of a game and the effect on won/lose records. It’s a genius coach or a dunce. A player or a loser. That’s why the transitive property doesn’t apply in sports and there are so many head scratcher results.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is true that variables are a huge factor.but Clemson and Alabama are also affected by variables and both reams are undefeated.Variables are most significant in single games, i.e. small samples.Getting a penalty for a delay of game is not a variable IMHO and getting an abundance of them is a negative skill..

      Like

  69. That’s right Dion. Most posters predicted PITT wouldn’t win 7 games let alone the ACC Coastal Yet when they do both it just ain’t good enough. Boggles my mind.

    Like

  70. a couple of notes:

    — Univ of Houston reportedly to fire their HC and is very interested in WVU’s Holgerson. While this may look like a step down, money does talk and Holgerson’s coaching background is Texas, where there are plenty of recruits. If true, Pitt may have a chance at 4-star Devonshire (but no guarantee)

    — ND scored only 3 vs Clemson (but did pass for > 8 yards). And Clemson played their back-up QB for most of the 4th quarter … don’t believe he got in vs Pitt

    Liked by 2 people

  71. Another note on the Cotton Bowl, after the game pompous Kelly stressed that ” only four big plays” separated ND from Clemson. Why didn’t he just claim ND was only five big plays from shutting out Clemson?!!? That’s probably what he will tell their big donors this off season.

    Like

  72. Only watched the Clemson-ND game here and there, but even so, saw three instances where a DB had hands and contact on a WR and nothing was called. I guarantee that had a Pitt DB done the very same things it would have been 3 pass interference calls against Pitt.

    I’d bet Big B’s Birthday cake on it! 😊

    Go Pitt!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment Please and Keep It Civil...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s