Finally a cupcake.
And despite what others may say, that is exactly what this game it. Yes, Delaware was an FCS playoff team last year, but based on what we’ve seen, Pitt should have a pretty clear-cut talent advantage in this game.
In case you wanted to know a little more about the Blue Hens, you can check out a pre-season preview at HeroSports.com.
Here is an excerpt:
OUR TAKE: In the first five games, only two games look like Delaware is expected to be in the “underdog” column — at Pitt and home vs. defending FCS national champion North Dakota State. The Blue Hens don’t get highly ranked James Madison or Maine in the CAA slate, but do have daunting road trips to Elon, a loaded Towson team and always-tough Villanova. The home slate consists of New Hampshire, Richmond, Albany and Stony Brook — all teams Delaware can certainly hang with. Our prediction is seven wins and the Blue Hens being in the FCS playoff discussion as a fringe at-large team. That’s not too shabby considering most consider this a “rebuilding” year. We won’t bore you with the “this team reloads instead of rebuilds” line … but you get where we’re going with this.
Delaware has already played North Dakota State – the only other team that HeroSports expected them to lose to. State won 47-22.
Delaware has also played three other games, winning all three. Last week they rallied from 20 points down to beat Penn 28-27. In week one they beat Delaware State 31-13. They’ve also beaten the University of Rhode Island 44-36. If you remember, Ohio U also played the University of Rhode Island, defeating them 41-20. Pitt in turn dispatched the Bobcats 20-10, so if you use the transitive property…
Of course the transitive property doesn’t always hold, especially in college football. Still, all Pitt has to do is play mistake-free ball and we should win this game going away. We may not cover the spread (24 points!) but Pat Narduzzi has never lost to an FCS team. This is a perfect opportunity for Pitt to get some backups some more experience, work on the weaker areas of its game (ahem running game), and rest some banged up guys before the Duke game.
The stats support this logic. Delaware is 71st in total offense (in the FCS). They average 372 yards per game. They have a balanced offense, averaging 151 yards on the ground and 221 through the air. What Pitt fans should be really excited about though is that Delaware ranks 110th in the FCS in sacks allowed, and 115th in TFL allowed. They are giving up 3.25 sacks and 9 TFL per game. If their offensive line has been over-matched by FCS competition, you’d have to think that Pitt’s DL is going to have field day. I’d expect to see a strong defensive performance from the Panthers that starts up front.
On the other side of the ball, Delaware’s defense is nothing to write home about. They are giving up 449 yards per game, good for 92nd in the FCS. 187 of those yards are on the ground. If Pitt can’t run the ball against the Blue Hens, they won’t be able to run the ball against anybody. Whipple needs to put his passing tendencies aside for one week and make sure Pitt focuses on establishing the run.
Now with all that being said, Pitt is going to get Delaware’s best shot, and upsets do happen. The Citadel – a 2-2 FCS team – recently took down Georgia Tech. But as I pointed out, the Duzz has a strong track record against the FCS. Pitt has also had four games to form an identity, and we have plenty of tape on the Hens. As long as we minimize mistakes and make the plays that are there to be made – no false starts, no holding, no dropped passes, players executing their assignments – this should be a pretty easy victory.
Hail to Pitt