For the second week in a row, nobody is giving Pitt a chance.

The bookies?  Nope.  The line is UCF -11.

The computers?  Nope.  ESPN gives UCF a 73% chance of winning.  Jeff Sagarin says the teams are a little more evenly matched, but he still predicts Pitt will lose by five.

Nonetheless, it looks like Pitt has earned a little bit of street cred.  This game will be nationally televised on ABC / ESPN 2 at 3:30.  You can bet that the networks are hoping for another near-upset, or maybe even an actual upset this time.

They sure do like to gamble.

First there are the emotional concerns.  Pitt played hard against Penn State.  Would anyone be surprised if they just didn’t come out this week with the same edge?  I wouldn’t.

Then there are the technical concerns.  The UCF offense is a finely-tuned scoring machine because of two things:  Tempo and execution.  Pitt has been practicing against a 10-second tempo all week, but you can bet that the scout team wasn’t executing at a UCF level.

Then there are the offensive concerns.  Pitt has scored a grand total of 34 points this season.  UCF hasn’t scored less than 45 per game.  That is a big deal, and a major source of concern.

If Pitt is to win, the defensive formula will have to be the same.  Stop the run.  Take away the deep routes.  Hit hard over the middle.  Contain the quarterback.  Pressure him on passing downs.  Gabriel  may be electric but I doubt he’s faced adversity.  Our defense needs to create some.

The offensive formula needs to be radically different.

First, Pitt needs to find a way to run the ball.  Banging it up in there behind Jimmy Morrissey would be a good start.  Little known fact:  Morrissey is ninth in the country in ESPN Player impact rating (a analytical scoring model that quantifies the effect a player has on the players around him.)  Also, both of UCF’s defensive tackles are freshman.  This is the perfect opportunity for Motrissey, Hargrove and Houey to bully a couple of guys who haven’t really been to combat, and we sorely need Jimmy to take his impact to the next level.

Second, the backs need to run with authority.  AJ Davis needs to run like the 6′ – 215 lb specimen that he is.  Vince Davis needs to hit the holes fast and know when to bounce it outside.  V’Lique Carter needs to round back into form.   Todd Sibly, if he gets any more chances, needs to make the most of them.

Third, the Wide Receivers need to play their best game.  That means no drops on easy passes.  None.  Starting with Mack and Ffrench and going right on down the line.  And the tough catches?  They need to keep making them.  Those jump balls to Mack last week where things of beauty.  Lets take advantage.

Fourth, Pickett needs to keep doing what he’s doing.  Keep reading defenses.  Keep buying time in the pocket.  Keep keeping his eyes downfield.  Keep making good checks to his second and third receivers.  He also needs to connect on a couple of deep balls.

Fifth, the Tight Ends need to continue to be involved, and they too need to be perfect.  When he holds onto the ball, Nakia Griffin-Stewart is a 6’5″, 260 lb hammer.  We saw him truck a DB on third down vs. Ohio.  We saw what he did on fourth down last week.    The UCF Safeties average 194 lbs.  The corners average 190.  Wearing them out with the run game is one option.  Wearing them out with Tight End is another.

Sixth, Mark Whipple needs to call his best game.  If we don’t score 35, we don’t win, it’s as simple as that.

Pitt 35 – UCF 31.

Maybe it’s fantasy land, but I’m sick and tired of downers.





112 thoughts on “UCF Prediction Thread

  1. Love the analysis. Dead on, MM. And I also like both your optimism and your final score. So to not have to share the prize money for the most accurate final score, I’ll go with Pitt 31- UCF 28.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MM – Good job.

    I would love to see this game be a coming out party for the Pitt power run game – featuring Todd Sibley. But I’m not holding my breath.

    I don’t think last week’s game will affect this one. The players move on better than the fans do…

    I just can’t see us scoring enough and I expect our defense to be gasping for air. I can’t remember a team getting to the line for the next play faster than UCF.

    Another tough game for Pitt.
    UCF 36; Pitt 31

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think Pitt’s defense keeps it close in the first half. Maybe something like a 14-10 halftime score. Unfortunately, our offense hasn’t done crap in the second half of games and this pattern will continue. With our defense on the field more in the second half, the pace of the UCF attack will wear down the defense and UCF will cruise to a 32-17 victory.


  4. Agree with danh; scottsvalley; major majors.
    And as usual, I hope I am wrong when I predict a Pitt loss.
    As many have mentioned — fans and Media alike — it’s a head scratcher that Pitt cannot score second half points, and it’s an indicator that half time adjustments aren’t happening (or sinking-in).
    So gotta give UCF credit for exhausting their opponents and throttling them offensively.
    Even with Stanford’s loss of their top RB, you’d have thought their loss would’ve been a lot closer than the middle weights UCF opened the season with. (Sun Bowl vs Pitt and I have to give UCF benefit of the doubt here.)
    Pitt 21 – UCF 35


    1. Stanford was also playing without their two starting OT’s and their QB did not play the previous week


  5. I believe the Pitt defense did well against PSU because their qb Clifford had never faced a Power 5 team before.

    The UCF qb has never faced a Power 5 team on the road so that may buy us a little time until the levees break.

    I agree with Dan’s comment above that we will play a hell of a 1st half and have a 17 to 13 lead… but then we pooh the bed in the 2nd half due to a lack of defensive adjustments. I think our offense is going to have a heck of a day tomorrow though and it will be close. VIncent Davis should be the feature back.

    Final: UCF 42 Pitt 34


    1. My bet on Pitt last week was based on my observation that Penn State is a mediocre team. UCF is anything but mediocre.


  6. A reminder – we’re honoring some past greats tomorrow – this year’s Hall of Fame class.

    You know what that means…


    From now on, we should only have former greats in the house against teams where we are a decent favorite. We let them down time and time again…

    Go Pitt.


  7. My thoughts are the same as last week …. it is likely to be a more competitive, lower scoring game than a year ago, and if Pitt can withstand the initial onslaught, it may even make a game of it.

    Agree with Maestro that if Pitt can run, it will be a big aid. Nonetheless, UCF 34 Pitt 27


  8. MM a nice bit of analysis. However I counted 14 Pitt “needs to” for Pitt to have a chance in this game. I say Pitt executes on maybe 7 of the 14 you detailed but still doesn’t get it done. UCF 40 Pitt 21. You did forget one other “needs to” however and that is Narduzzi needs to not make ant additional bone head decisions for this game.


    1. You have successfully read between the lines JRN. And you are probably right (sadly…)


  9. Two areas to exploit for Pitt: Two Freshmen DLs means they don’t have depth there. Also, on offense they send out 3 WRs, so if Pitt can maintain man coverage they could blitz the Freshman QB and maybe get some turnovers. I think Pitt wins this 31-28.


  10. Two PSAs:

    Tonight — 6th ranked Pitt WVB vs 4th ranked PSU at Silly Valley
    Return match at the Pete on Sunday (don’t know if its on ACCN)

    if you’re jonesing for golf, you may want to watch the BMW PGA Tourney the next 2 mornings (Golf Channel) being played in England. All the top Europeans plus a handful of Americans


    1. This is definitely not a PSA. Pgh is one of 3 markets where KFC is testing its crispy chicken donut sandwich where a donut is being used instead of a bun

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pitt’s defense is excellent, and will continue proving it this week. Pitt’s offense will be bad enough for the downers on this blog to complain a lot until the Duke game. Pitt gets two huge turnovers OR special teams plays that either go for a TD or flip the field. Redemption for Kessman with a walk-off game winner. Pitt wins 29-26, on their way to a 9-3 regular season.


  12. The key tomorrow may be how well UCF deals with Pitt’s blitzing.

    While I expect the Dline to get rundown pretty fast and lose effectiveness in pass rushing, we can keep some pretty fresh LB blitzers on the field – and we do have numbers at DB…

    Go Coach Bates!


  13. UCF is I believe the largest university in the USA. Larger than A&M.

    Its football program is putting the school on the map.

    It has access to recruiting talent in Florida and Georgia.

    There is talk of an ACC invite.

    Lets make sure it stays talk.

    With a rejuvenated running game and a second half surge, the Panthers manage to outscore CFU in a low scoring game. Pitt seals the win with a turnover in the last minute as CFU was driving to tie the game.

    Pitt 27
    CFU 20


  14. I predict Pitt will score at least once in the second half. I’ve lit 76 candles and chanted MPGA 76 times to lift the curse of the Demon Deacon. However, I don’t think we will score enough in the second quarter and the second half to win. Hope I’m wrong about the outcome. MPGA – Hobie

    Liked by 1 person

  15. We know less about PITT going into game 4 than we did last year. BTW Michaelangelo, Pickett did have a lousy game against Virginia. I again say that we really don’t know all that much about after PITT’s first three games or their opponents this early in the season. psu averaging 63 pts a game and UCF over 51 pts.

    Is PITT’s defense that good to hold a team averaging 63 points a game to 17 pts at their house in front of 110,00 screaming fans? I guess we shall see but I think the defense is legit.. SOOO

    I’m going with PITT doing a way better job against the golden Knights and hold them down to 24 pts while KP will be on duty and leads PITT to 27 pts. PITT gets a turnover or two and Kessman gets a new pair of glasses and hits a couple field-goals….. finally.

    PITT…. 27


  16. Tough to get a team emotionally up for two straight weeks, especially after a rivalry game. The college football world loves to bash the AAC conference, but count me as a believer in UCF and Josh Heupel. I think UCF presents more challenges than last week’s opponent. This is the Knights’ last chance to make a statement against a P-5 school this year. Did you watch them play Stanford last week? Pitt should be able to move the ball against UCF, but I don’t take anything away from the outcome here.
    UCF 38 – Pitt 24.


  17. I would add Narduzzi needs to use timeouts better. I was actually more upset with timeout usage last week than “the call” as we should have had more time for the last drive if not for blown timeouts. We also should have iced the kicker in the first half.


  18. I to question the decision to not go for the TD but to say PITT was not in a position to win the psu game is absurd. Especially considering two points… One, Pickett was throwing the ball into the end-zone PITTs last possession and should have been only down four pts….. Thanks Kessman… and two…. 95% of you know what score you predicted..

    Misuse of timeouts is unacceptable.

    Meanwhile… back home in cozy Heinz Field I look for Bates to have a solid game plan. We are all talking turnovers but another important factor is NO MISSED TACKLES!

    Ford gets another interception and this one will count.


  19. In my preseason prediction I had Pitt going 8-4 with no Coastal championship. My thoughts were 6-2 in conference play & 2-2 in OOC. The losses were not to Ohio or Delaware.

    Just like last week, I see no reason to change my mind: Pitt 27 – UCF 37. As for Ike comment, I knew what I predicted last week & really didn’t get involved with post game reactions. I will celebrate with a Pitt win.


  20. Parking… Which parking lot with T access is best? I’m coming from the Fort Pitt tunnel. First Avenue Station, Steel Plaza, Wood Street Station and Gateway.


    1. Hit the parking lot across from the Renaissance Hotel downtown Pittsburgh… Plenty of spaces… We can walk across the bridge to the game… Jeanie B and myself are staying at the Renaissance… If that works for you


    2. If you want a parking pass to the Red Garage let me know…I have an extra.
      724-309-4343. Shoot me a text if you want it.


  21. At this moment Jeanie B and myself are at the Alla Famiglia Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh… I just put my lips on my first Manhattan… Let me have two or three more of these concoctions and I will make my prediction! Hail to PITT and Heel to ERIC!!!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for asking. They could not get good ECG images due to my thick skin. Taking a nuclear stress test at the hospital this Wednesday. They shoot your chest full of cobalt dye. 4.5 hours of misery but it will show everything…. good hopefully!


  22. Haha on the AB dismissal…couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
    Hey Ike go with Rocky for the pups name and then start calling him Rockports as his nickname…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think the running game comes alive this week. It better – it’s the only way the D gets rested! We REALLY need one long drive after another. Zero 3-and-outs! And a “Special” special team effort.

    The D needs to “welcome” that baby QB to D-1 football in the 1st Q….many times!

    Kenny’s for real.

    If we do these things, we win.

    PITT 34. Florida University Central 28

    Subtle, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ooooohhhh Bernie, that place is reallllly expensive. Allentown area. I’m impressed. Getting PT for shoulder, my guy is even coming in very early Saturday to give treatment. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep soon.
    Prediction, we lose. I’ll be watching how players respond. I mean, they are smart kids, they have to know last weeks decision was one of the worst in recent memory, and they have to be hearing it from everyone, high school friends and coaches to other players. How do you play for someone who won’t even admit he made a mistake?


  25. This is the kind of game that Pitt loses ten out of ten times on paper. That’s just the way it stacks up. UCF is just too fast & is a scoring machine. But the craziness is that Pitt wins just these types of games. Giving Pitt fans hope just when the darkest hour is upon the program.
    The way it happens is winning the turnover battle tomorrow. We’re way behind in that category. That gets rebalanced against UCF.
    Pitt wins in a squeaker,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doc – hopefully you dont suffer heat stroke as a year ago at FLorida University Central!!

      Stay thirsty, my friend!



      1. The weather will be much more accommodating for both teams today, partly cloudy, in the mid 80s beats the hell out of a cloudless high 90s Florida day on the sunny side of that frying pan of a stadium that UCF plays in down in Orlando.
        This one I’ll be watching from my climate controlled man cave with plenty of adult beverages handy to keep me liquidated!
        Let the ass kicking begin!


  26. I’ve calmed down and thinking rationally, now. Pitt wins 52-21 to bring it’s scoring average up to 24/game. Not delusional at all, right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. UCF – 31
    Pitt – 17

    With Pitt down 28 – 14 with 6 minutes left in the game, Narduzzi ops for a field goal on the 1 yard line to make it 28-17. Then he ops kicks off deep and UCF gets a late FG against a pissed off defense to seal the win.

    Narduzzi’s relatives then plan to all buy him calculators as gag gifts. This gag catches on so well with Pitt staff & alum that Narduzzi has over 10,000 of them by the Duke. Some Pitt fans are thrown out of the game as they hurl them on the field….

    Liked by 3 people

  28. The Pats should find a way to get Switzer from the Steelers – shouldn’t be difficult. Switzer plays like crap for the Steelers; but he’s the prototypical Pats WR…

    Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Switzer ends up there…

    Go Pitt.


  29. We can’t run the ball.
    Can’t control time of possession.
    Depleted D-line wilts.
    Ok State all over again.
    Touchdown by Nick Patti in mop-up duty.


  30. Pitt leads 2-0 sets. A ray of hope for Pitt tomorrow. The gambling line opened at 13 is now down to 10.5. That’s a huge move by the people who’ve the most to lose. So someone thinks Pitt will make this a game.


  31. Pitt w a 3-0 sweep at Penn State.
    First time the Peds have been swept since 1986. First time Pitt wins at State since 1980

    Awesome to watch. And playing Sweet Caroline.

    Every Pitt sports team should watch this terrific group at Pitt. They know how to win and how to go for the jugular !! H2P

    Liked by 6 people

  32. First time since 1986 that psuX women’s volleyball has been swept at home.

    The Pitt women were very impressive.

    Pitt’s first WVb win at psuX since 1980.

    Pitt is the only undefeated team in the top 10 sitting at #6 after sweeping the nit wits.


    Liked by 1 person

  33. I’ve been saying since the home opener that I believe Pitt will win this game. Not backing down now. 30- 27


  34. Btw, I also said I wanted to be there for the game. Unfortunately work decided otherwise. Have a great tailgate guys!


  35. “You can’t really double Ffrenchy,” he (OC Mark Whipple) said. “They might try to bracket him in the slot, and then you’re going to get one-on-one on Taysir.”

    Getting the sense that Whipple thinks he has TWO pretty GOOD Receivers!


  36. Jeff Goodman@GoodmanHoops
    The fact that Kansas is going to get a Notice of Allegations soon is really not news. Neither is fact that they are gonna get hit with Level I violations. The news will be when the penalties are released for all these programs and coaches (i.e. Arizona, LSU, NC State, USC, UNC, etc.)

    Those who think Pitt is playing on the same level as many of their opponents, in both FB and BB, are naïve. If you want to criticize coaches for bonehead decisions … fine! I have no issue, But when it comes to recruiting and overall performance (W/L) considering the constraints and tough schedules, that’s where I draw the line.

    Here’s the ACC OOC schedule for this week:
    Clemson: Charlotte
    UVa: Old Dominion
    BC: Rutgers
    Wake: Elon
    Syracuse: Western Mich
    UNC: Appalachian St
    NC State: Ball St
    Miami: Central Mich

    Pitt: #15 UCF

    This is the 2nd week in a row where Pitt has played a ranked team while the rest has played crap (finally a break next week)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Capel is going to land a top 15 class. And thats not by cheating. Its by working hard and hustling. Narduzzi can learn a thing or two from him.

      Will Pitt ever be elite without cheating? Probably not. But who on here wants to be elite?

      If basketball can get back to the tourney and if football can reach a level of 9-11 wins each year, I’ll be happy.

      And yes an easy OOC schedule is one way to get there along with better players and at least half decent coaching.

      Capel has a good chance at winning more ACC games this year than Narduzzi total wins.


      1. Capel is going to be a far cry from a top 15 class. I believe currently he’s recruiting in the bottom third for ACC schools for next season.


  37. The setting: 2016 ..Friday night before the game in Goobers Bar, Clemson, SC …. JeanieB and BigB were imbibing and sharing pleasantries with our many newly found friends in orange…. as we were getting to leave they asked me my prediction for the up-coming game…. I replied, “ 44-13 Tigers. Please don’t embarrass us!” One of their group responded, “A lot of us are worried about this PITT team .”

    Just goes to show you how much I know. Realistically, I am thinking Knights 34 Gargoyles 31….. but we play with them and leave the game knowing we can handle a the remaining schedule… UCF continues on to an undefeated season winning a bowl game against a FBS conference runner-up….

    Wonder which P5 conference will welcome them??? Maybe we kick ND out of the ACC.. schedule them yearly( love playing the Irish) and. add UCF…. they will get in a P5 conference sooner than later… what are your thoughts…

    Count-down to Tailgate time!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Believe in the Impossible… 1969 undefeated Beth-Center came to Apollo, The Bulldogs had a veteran team lead by Big 33 fullback Fred Pagac and were favored to demolish the up-start new merger,Apollo-Ridge, 33-0. When the final whistle sounded the score- board read 9-0 in favor of the home….you never and I mean never can know what will happen…. that’s why we show up at games, in front of TVs and in thePOV… this is the stuff that feeds those inner emotions, good and bad, gives us a cause to pull for and hero’s to cheer on… CIRCLE THE WAGONS boys and girls … IT’s GAMEDAY….. Go Goyles

    Liked by 2 people

  39. off topic but …. last night we went up to my home area (only a 40 min drive) to see my friend’s Neshannock Lancers put on pasting on Shadyside Academy (which in fairness, only had about 20 players on the roster).

    Nonetheless, the opening kickoff was returned by a kid named Tomlin which gave SSA its only lead. About that time, there were murmurs in the stands about a large white Mercedes SUV parked on an elevated area above the corner of the end zone … with a canopy and a few people sitting there. You guessed it?

    I was thinking of the contrast … sitting at a AA game where there were probably 750 people at most compared to coaching 2500 miles away at the stadium which will hold this year’s Super Bowl …. within a 48 hr time period.


  40. BTW, in an hour and 15 min, Alabama will play its 2nd game this year so far starting at 11 am local time. And one of the the top games today …. Mich vs Wisc … will do the same. Look for Wisc to cruise; the fighting Harbaughs have only beaten one ranked team on the road since he came to UM in ’14.


  41. cant say I’m a fan of 11 am games
    does students and tailgaters no favours
    all about the TV money and squeezing as many games into time slots as possible


  42. Finally catching up on the POV. Been behind all week. Really good analysis by MM and comments from all.

    The Pitt offense should be more balanced this week. I’d like to think that we will be hitting our stride in the Whipple era, beginning this week and especially next.

    In fact, I’ll guarantee a win this week. And if we don’t win Ike will eat two dozen rocky mountain oysters!!

    Pitt 35 UCF 31

    Liked by 4 people

  43. They better be drinking water and peeing clear by kickoff. I know hydration.

    Actually water with squeezed lemons. Spicy pickle juice if you’re adventurous.


  44. “The Duzz” could take a lesson from his Predecessor. You know, the Coach who couldn’t talk, couldn’t dress couldn’t recruit, etc?

    Hopefully he’s paying attention!


  45. Tipton out for season with knee injury. Yikes – we can’t get a break…and neither can Tre Tipton…

    Go Pitt


Comments are closed.