I am starting out this post with a feel-good public service announcement. Pitt women’s volleyball is #10 in the country. They are playing Ohio State tonight at PPG arena at 8 pm. You could do a lot worse on a Friday night than to go out and support these talented young women.
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…and now on to our regularly scheduled Football content.
Hard to believe that gameday is almost here. You’ve got to love a short week.
There has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth over Pitt’s performance last week, and in typical Pitt fashion, much of it is probably overreaction. Did Pitt’s offense play extremely poorly against the Hoos? Yes, yes they did. Is Kenny Pickett ever going to get it together and turn into a competent passer? Well, we still aren’t sure. With that being said, Chris Peak’s podcast offers some sage advice on the topic, and it also points out that we Pitt fans have been down this road before. Many times…
Now that you’ve taken a step back from the cliff, lets talk about this Ohio game.
As I pointed out yesterday, Ohio’s quarterback is an equalizer, and Frank Solich is not a coach to be trifled with. Pitt on the other hand, is more talented and just about every position and Pat Narduzzi’s teams typically win the games they are supposed to win. In fact, the only non-Power 5 team Narduzzi has lost to was Navy, back in the 2105 Military Bowl. This is either a good thing (Pitt’s got a great track record against G5 schools) or a bad thing (Well dang it Pitt is due to lay an egg soon here).
Speaking of laying an egg, Pitt is a 5.5 – 6 point favorite. Pat Narduzzi’s record against the spread (when favored by six or less) is 11-14-1.
Frank Solich, again as I pointed out yesterday, is 35-15 against the spread since 2015.
From a matchup standpoint…here is a quick rundown:
- Kenny Pickett vs Ohio’s pressure: Ohio generated only two sacks on FCS Rhode Island last week. Pitt’s O-Line wasn’t great against Virginia, but Ohio is should be a step down. Advantage Pitt
- Nathan Rourke vs Pitt’s Front Seven: Rourke is an exceptional talent, but is he any better than Bryce Perkins? Pitt largely held Perkins in check last week. Ohio has three 5th year senior offensive linemen, but I think Pitt should be able to get pressure off the edges and keep Rourke contained. Still, Rourke is likely to make some things happen. Push
- Ohio’s WR’s vs Pitt’s Secondary: Ohio’s receivers are likely disciplined route runners that probably thrive on the underneath stuff. Pitt will be playing them in man coverage. As long as we can stay away from PI penalties it’s Advantage Pitt
- Pitt’s WR’s vs Ohio’s Secondary. If Rhode Island can pass for nearly three-hundred yards, you’d expect to see Maurice Ffrench and Compnay running free all day back there. Advantage Pitt…if they can cold onto the ball.
- Ohio’s Running Game vs Pitt’s Front Seven: Ohio ran for 278 yards last week, and Ohio has three 5th year seniors on the O-line. Pitt will be rotating at least two redshirt freshman in on the D line. At Defensive tackle, Jaylen Twyman played tentative last week. Look for Ohio to try to exploit Pitt’s inexperience here and creates some running lanes. Pat Narduzzi’s defense is supposed to be predicated on stopping the run. They had a tough time doing it in the second half last week when Keyshon Camp was out. They need to be better against the Bobcats. Advantage Ohio
- Pitt’s running game vs Ohio’s Front Seven: Rhode island averaged 3.7 YPC last week against the Bobcats. Still, Rhode Island is an FCS team… Mark Whipple doesn’t like the run the ball and we’re not even sure that Pitt’s O-line can run block. The backs will get what’s blocked but not much more. Push
- Special Teams: After a blocked punt and a missed field goal, Pitt has nowhere to go but up. Frank Solich seems like a guy that doesn’t stand for any monkey business, so Ohio should be sound in the kicking game. I think Pitt gets its issues corrected though. Push
The bottom line is that if Pitt executes, they should win (Now if I had a dollar for every time I said that…). Pitt will execute, but only just enough. I also think the defense takes s step back this week. Pitt 38 – Ohio 35.