Despite last week’s weak showing against Delaware, optimism is running high that we can beat Duke.  Perhaps that is because six starters were sidelined last week, including Kenny Pickett.  Perhaps that was because we believe that 13 penalties are an anomaly.  Perhaps that’s because we know that Pitt tends to play down to lesser competition, and we know that Duke isn’t lesser competition.  Perhaps it’s because we’ve won five of the last six games against the Blue Devils.

Well, whatever the reason, we all know a little optimism can be a dangerous thing.  It’s much safer to keep your expectations low.  Not that the Pitt Sports Information Department is doing anything to help.

In all seriousness though, September was a great month for Twyman.  He is living up to expectations, and he needs to keep it going.  Morrissey gets credit too.  He has done what he’s done against two of the better pass rushes in the country…UVA and Penn State.  Not bad for a former walk on.

As good as Twyman (and the rest of the defensive line) has been, do not expect a lot of sacks this week.  Part of if is Duke’s offensive line (seasoned and capable).  Part of it is scheme.

Per Pat Narduzzi:

They’ve given up one sack. That’s crazy. I don’t know how many teams in the country have given up one sack after they’ve played four. That’s ridiculous. Alabama got one sack, just so you know. Alabama got one. They’re the number-one team in the country; they only got home one time. So what does that tell you? [Cutcliffe] does a great job with the quarterbacks and their offensive scheme, period. 

We’re going to have to play great coverage on Saturday. We really are. Because they know where they’re going. And they don’t do so much. They added this option to part of their game, but their other stuff is not so much. If you look at our hit chart, they don’t have a thousand formations. Last week against Delaware, we didn’t know what we were going to get. You got quads, you got stuff all over the place; I don’t want to call it a bunch of junk, but they had all kinds – you know, Duke’s offense is not junk. They run a lot of great stuff and they know what they’re doing and, ‘If you do this, we do that.’ They’ve got it pretty good. So that’s Coach Cutcliffe.

Still, it’s fair to say that Duke’s OL has not truly been tested.  Alabama has 10 sacks through five games.  Virginia Tech has 10 sacks through four.  Pitt has 27.

So maybe Pitt gets three sacks on Saturday night?  They need five.

The oddsmakers like Duke to win by four and a hook.

The computers favor Duke as well.  ESPN gives Duke a 73.7% chance of victory.

Jeff Sagarin’s ratings give Duke a six point edge.

All of that is probably because Duke is on a three game win streak and they dismantled Virginia Tech in Blacksburg last week (45-10).  That was in a large part due to the play of Duke QB Quentin Harris.

Harris does it all for the Blue Devils.  He’s thrown for 842 yards and 12 TD’s on the year.  He’s their leading rusher with 303 yards.  He’s scored 12 total touchdowns.  Take out the Alabama game (where Duke scored 3 points) and that’s 3 touchdowns per game.

So yes, it all comes down to stopping the quarterback, and that is one thing Pitt has consistently done well this season.

Pitt did a good job against UVA’s Bryce Perkins, limiting him to 181 yards passing and 2 TD’s.  In fact, they’ve done a good job against all the quarterbacks they’ve faced

Ohio’s Nathan Rourke (a preseason multi-award watch list guy) was held to 177 yards and no TD’s (although he was apparently ill…)

Penn State’s Sean Clifford was held to 222 yards with no TD’s.

Central Florida’s Daniel Gabriel threw for 338 but also thew two picks, which changed the face of the game.  Despite the big numbers his QBR was a meager 32.8 (QBR is the ESPN number that goes up to 100).

Delaware’s Nolan Henderson threw for only 127 yards on 31 attempts, although he did toss two touchdowns.

If history holds, Duke will pass for no more than two touchdowns tomorrow.  And if Pitt can avoid turnovers, Duke might pass for less.

While I’m at it, I will state something painfully obvious.  Pitt needs to win the turnover battle if it wants to win.  The defense either needs to score some points, or create some positive momentum that the other side of the ball can feed on.

Which brings us to the offense.  Duke is giving up 142 yards per game on the ground this year, which sounds like a lot.

Take a closer look though:

Bama:  42/ 145 / 3.5

NC A&T: 29 / 138 / 4.8

MTSU:  32 / 138 / 4.3

Virginia Tech:  43 / 139 / 3.2

Duke has clearly played better against the better teams that they’ve faced.  I think they will be up for this game, and I’d be surprised if Pitt gets the running game going tomorrow.

As for passing, there is not a lot to go on.  Duke was either dominated by superior competition, or they dominated inferior competition.  The lone exception is Virginia Tech, whom Duke dominated, and who ostensibly is not inferior competition, but I suspect that by season’s end the Hokies will be fully exposed, and we’ll all be saying “yep that should have been expected.”

Here are the actual passing yard statistics:

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (who will finish top-3 in the Heisman voting) threw for 336 and 4 TD’s.   A clearly over-matched NC A&T Team threw for 111 yards.  Middle Tennessee throw for 201 and two TD’s, and the dumpster fire that is Virginia Tech threw for just 118, while completing less than 50% of their passes.

If Pitt is going to move the ball through the hair, you have to think that Whipple will have the right scheme.  You have to hope that Kenny’s shoulder is 100%, and you also have to hope that the receivers and tight ends hold on to the ball.   Protection, as usual, will be key. Duke has 10 sacks through four games, so as long as Pitt O-Line continues to progress Pickett more or less should have a clean pocket to throw from.  Still, Pitt’s entire offense scored three touchdowns in a game once this year.

Special teams will probably continue to be an adventure.  Based on Chris Peak’s TD stat that I posted above, Pitt would do well to utilize Christendoulou’s booming leg and keep Duke pinned back as much as they can.  Pitt would also do well to hypnotize Alex Kessman into believing he is actually Chris Blewitt, so that we can get some consistency in the field goal game.  This would also be a great time for the return game to show something.  Kick and punt coverage, as usual needs to be sound, with no long returns given up.

As far as a prediction, I don’t know.

On paper you’d expect this to be a low-scoring affair, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be the game where someone finds a hole in the Pitt defense.  If anyone can do it, it’s David Cutcliffe.  Duke rolled up 619 yards of offense last year on Pitt, and if this game turns into a shootout, I’m not sure Pitt has the firepower to compete.  I hate to do this, but I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than sadly disappointed.

Pitt 17 – Duke 38

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone






131 thoughts on “Duke Prediction Thread

  1. Don’t know if Pitt will win but pretty darn sure it will be a competitive game. I was going to predict a close Duke win, but now I am going with Pitt 24-21


    1. PS- while I agree with Maestro that Cutliffe is a great offensive mind, I want to remind him that a first round draft pick who Is currently doing very well in the NFL right now passed for 396 yards and 4 TDs last year. On the other hand Cutliffe has 2 more days preparation but I’m still going with the defense here


  2. If I put money on Duke then I expect a PITT win…historically has worked at Clemson ’16, Miami “17 ,Syracuse ’18 and UCF ’19….well worth the cost !!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You never can tell with a Pitt team, but in the sixth game the O-line should be as mature as it is going to get this year. This game will tell us a lot about where we are headed this year.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Coming into the season Narduzzi had yet to lose to Virginia and Duke. With a loss to the Cavs in the first game I think comes his first loss to Duke. The failure by a cornerback to make a play on a deep ball late in the game sets up a FG in a three-point Duke win.


  5. The bad news is I predict Duke 28 Pitt 13. Too many Pitt players of importance are still on the injured list. And Whipple’s less then stellar scoring offense just won’t be enough IMO.The good news is I have been dead wrong on my predictions all year long. I thought PSU and UCF would easily cover the point spread in their games against Pitt. And I thought Pitt would easily beat the point spread against Ohio and Delaware. You can’t get much more wrong then that. So I’m hoping I end up dead wrong this week also.


  6. MM — Good article.

    Last year’s Duke game was awesome. Still amazed we hung around and then won it.

    But to protect my mental health, I have to keep my expectations low — especially with all the injuries. If we had Weaver and Camp…

    My complete guess:
    Duke 30 Pitt 23

    Go Pitt.


  7. michael michael motorcycle .. i am shocked. you are the glass half full guy and you came out with a blow out type of prediction. tisk tisk 😉 Anyway, i suck at predictions, but am confident our defense will keep us in most games if not all. Even if the games are high scoring they will do enough to give the offense a shot to win the game.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Q1: Pitt 14 / Duke 10
    Q2: Pitt 24 / Duke 13
    Q3: Pitt 31 / Duke 23
    Q4: Pitt 31 / Duke 33

    Pitt has a chance to win it with a field goal


  9. Very simple, as the saying goes, “our big uglies against their big uglies”. Shame we lost depth on the defensive line. Plus Duke is playing at home. Who wins????? I hope it is close.


  10. Hmmm not sure why my previous comment didn’t post….

    Pitt wins easily 28-17. Top 10 defense in the country! Paris Ford and Damar Hamlin will turn up with the lights on. This is an entirely different defense from when we played Duke last season. #H2P


  11. 40 years ago today, there was an article in the PG with the headline: “Pitt Fans Grumble about Sherrill’s Coaching.”

    I suggest everyone on here read this article about how Pitt football was being ruined by Jackie Sherrill – who had only won 9 games his first season and 8 his second…

    You can find the article on “PGH Sports History” — worth a read….

    Fire Sherrill! 😊

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PGH Sports Now is on Twitter. You can google the name, then scroll down about nine articles for the Sherrill article…

      Wonder if that disgruntled Pitt fan referred to in the article is now on the POV?😊

      Go Pitt.


    2. Pitt had higher expectations back in the day after winning a national championship and achieving 12 wins.

      So hitting 8 was falling well below the mark set. Pitt was considered elite. It had top ten recruiting classes.

      It would be like the successor to Saban only winning 9-10 games.

      Pitts expectations are much lower today after it de-emphasized football.


      1. All true.

        I found it interesting that after all the gloom and doom of that article, Pitt went on to win 11 games that season.

        And the two seasons thereafter…

        Go Pitt.


  12. PITT…. 38

    Henderson gets banged up and doesn’t finish the game. Hope it’s nothing serious.

    Bernie, can’t make it to Durham but I’m entrusting you, Fran and JoeL to pass on my presence and love for all, love you guys! Have a great time, take care of each other and be loud and PITT proud, I know you all will. Please shake hands and hug everyone and tell them all hey and I’m sorry I missed them….. again..

    Last thing, Do we all remember back when we were all 7 years old in Sunday school and were constantly told to defeat the Devil? Tomorrow night is just another night PITT does. Defeat the Devils!!! Have a great weekend. . . ….. ..ike

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Wow! Just read where Coach Cutcliffe has been at Duke for 12 seasons! Is that correct?

    Didn’t know coaching that long at one school was still permissible. He’s ruining the stats for how often head coaches are replaced… (Sorta like Hall’s long runs…) 😊😊

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Tx, The Devil = Paterno?? Same thing right?

    If you asked the everyday PITT football fan they would probably tell you that David Cutcliffe is an offensive guru and a good head coach. Yet the same fans scoff at the idea of Narduzzi being an defensive guru and a good head football coach? After 12 seasons at Duke, Cutcliffe’s conference record is 32-57. After only four seasons Narduzzi is only 9 wins short of that. DC’s overall record after 12 seasons?…… 70-73 over-all record against an OOC schedule nothing close to what Narduzzi has faced so far. After Cutcliffe’s first FIVE years he had a record of 9-31 conference record. The highest Duke finished in those 5 years was a tie for 5th place in the coastal. I guess the point is ?? Stay on the side of the fence you are most familiar with…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Pitt is coming off a game in which they were sleepwalking. I think it was an embarrassment to the players and coaches. They will be focused and ready to play.

    Pitt 35-33


    1. Has the Pitt offense been ever really been focused this year? Pitt’s lack of scoring offense for a power 5 program is unacceptable. To say I’m disappointed at this point in what Whipple’s offense has displayed this season would be an extreme understatement. I remember Ffrench saying something liked he went out and watched Andy Isaballa’s tapes at U Mass when he knew Whipple would be our OC. Has Ffrench this season ever once looked like he might be an Andy Isabella look alike in a Pitt uniform?


  16. I knew Joe was bad news when I was 6. Never trusted the man even at that early age.

    Duke doesn’t spend money on football. One of the lowest spends in the ACC. They care about basketball.

    20k fans will show whether they win 5 games or 10. Small and private.

    Pitt is far different. 4th highest spend. A football first culture. Very dependent on football paying the bills.

    Pitt can’t afford for the program to head into the dumpster. Duke could easily survive and live off its very profitable basketball.


  17. Saw this earlier …

    I’m going 52-7 good guys to mirror that score and result …

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I am looking forward to driving down for the game tomorrow and seeing friends.
    Wallace Wade Stadium is a great place to see a game – built into the side of a hill just like Pitt Stadium.
    The first game there was Duke vs Pitt in 1929.
    Rose Bowl played there during WWII.
    Everyone who has been to it lately says the face lift was nicely done.

    Sounds like the POV pregame will be held over near the Washington Duke Inn, just west of the stadium.
    Atlpanther, BigB, Fran and my brother Chris – who I am going to start calling BigC – will all be there. Who else is going?

    Maestro – the substance of everything you wrote says toss-up.
    The two teams seem evenly matched, so I believe the game will come down to penalties and turnovers.
    One would hope that last week’s debacle with flags does not repeat itself.
    I think there is a chance the Duke players come out just a slight bit flat after the drubbing they gave the Hokies in Blacksburg. If we had beaten Tech 45-10 last week in Blacksburg, we would all be cautioning about a letdown,, no matter how bad VT may turn out being.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Hard to read this one but it seems, outside of Alabama which crushed Duke, PITT has played the better competition. PITT has also done well against the better competition but has done worse against weaker competition. My guess is that PITT comes up with one, as we usually do in big games. PITT 31-27


  20. Hope to see a good game tomorrow. Traveling to the stadium tomorrow! Presently 101-102 F in the shade here in Aiken SC. It had better cool down by game time!!!

    Have no clue which Pitt team will show up. I am expecting and hoping for a low scoring game. If Duke scores three touchdowns we lose!


  21. Richard and JoeL and all, I’ll be at the tailgate but only in spirit. If I could still do YouTube my song would be…………. “Have a Drink on Me!!”

    Liked by 2 people

  22. So is Duke better than UCF? I know Pitt beat UCF at home but many say that playing at Heinz is no advantage for Pitt. I was wrong in picking Pitt to beat Virginia, but if they were to play the Hoos now I’d pick Pitt again. All this to say I’m picking Pitt to win…..35-27.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Fran — Will Scooter be at the game?

    Without Scooter and his lucky Pitt BB shirt, we have no chance… 😊

    Go Pitt.


  24. I really like our defense, but I have a bad feeling that we are too cocky on that side of the ball right now and Duke is better on O than people realize. Duke also for whatever reason had the right recipe for putting up a lot of points on us last year. I think it was the Duke RB that had what felt like a million catches against us (I could be wrong on that). Are our LBs good enough this year to stop that?

    I think Whipple and Pickett (or Patti if Pickett takes a beating or is already banged up) and the rest of the O are going to have to be really clicking to win this one.


  25. PittofDreams
    August 6, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Obvious that Defense is the strength of this Team. Most of the questions lie with the Offensive side of the Ball.

    BIGGEST question on Offense?

    While most seem to have their worries focused on Pickett and the Passing Game, my MAIN concern is Runningback.


  26. We (POV Nation) have arrived and have started our quest of conquering Tobacco Road…

    Something to look for…. if we get 3-4 sacks in the 1st half… look out.. PITT toughness shows…… we win !!!

    Nice breeze here… bet Alex plays it to his advantage kicking the WEENER down here South of the Border…..

    Liked by 5 people

  27. Pitt Volleyball had a tougher time than usual beating Miami 3-0. First set went to 26-24, second set was 25-23, third set 25-17. Unfortunately Dish while carrying the ACC Network does not have access to ACC Network Extra or replays of anything ACC Network related so all saw was the play by play.


  28. Freshman Quarterback Dillon Gabriel and his 10.5 yards per pass head into the home of Skyline Chili.

    Is he really the second coming of Drew Brees or are the Bearcats goin’ to punch him in the mouf?

    We shall see.


  29. All going to Duke game: POV tailgate starts at 4 PM in the parking lot corner of LaSalle and Circuit on the Duke campus. Look for Atlanta Panther’s RV, with Bernie’s WUP and the PITT SCRIPT flags flying. And a good time will be had by all!!

    BTW, Pitt D leads the way:

    Pitt 31. Duck 21.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. The question is: who needs this game more. Pitt would have 2 Coastal losses- not good. They need this one and will win it 28-24


  31. (Pitt Head Coach Pat) Narduzzi called the Blue Devils “the best Duke team we faced since we’ve been here.”

    Trib Review

    For once, I actually agree with Narduzzi!


  32. Forgot – the POV tailgate is located as above. The parking lot is the Small Circuit Lot. The attendant said you need to be here by 4 – 4:30 to get a spot. Doug said there are only 2 RVs registered for tomorrow. If you show your game ticket when you come in, there is FREE PARKING!! Who’da thunk??


      1. John… stop by .. festivities start at 4 here in the small circuit parking lot… check your PSU wife in with security!!!! Kidd’n… Hail to PITT… WUPsome… PSUxxxxxx

        Liked by 2 people

  33. The security guard here at the parking lot at POV headquarters came by for a little visit… She said the president of Duke university came by this afternoon and told her “we are going to get our butts beat tomorrow!”


  34. Pickett shakes off the rust after the first quarter. Pitt has success running off tackle. Pitt comes from behind to defeat Duke.

    Pitt 38 – Duke 35


  35. Bernie- does he mean we (Pitt) is going to get beat or we (Duke) is? Ready for the tailgate tomorrow. See ya tomorrow! Pitt wins in a close one…


  36. I don’t have a good feeling about this game. Duke is playing well. Pitt was playing well but last week was ugly. Not sure which Pitt team shows up. Add home field advantage and I think Duke pulls out a reasonably close win. I’ll go with:

    Duke 24
    Pitt 17


    1. I’ll fall on my sword and admit that I got this call wrong. That said, I doubt anyone on this board saw this game playing out the way it did. The number of turnovers from both teams were absurd. Throw in the number of penalties (particularly on Pitt) and it made for really strange game. The offense (even with Pickett back) was pretty lame. Really bad decisions on the picks. Our running game is non-existent. Defense was solid again. We did just enough to win. Last drive was pretty sweet. It was nice to be on the winning side of such a weird game.


  37. Duke blows out VT and Pitt escapes FCS embarrassment. That is a great recipe for a Pitt cover and win on the money line. Kessman salvages career tomorrow. Pitt 23 Duke 20.


  38. Well so much for the cheering about Pitt over UCF since Cincinnati did the same to them last night. It does take some luster off the Pitt UCF victory doesn’t it? I guess we now have to hope for PSU to run the table(what an ugly thought) for our narrow loss to them to have any significance come year end.


  39. No luster lost for me and I never hope for psuX to win, ever.

    Pitt needs to take care of the teams on it’s schedule and at the end of the season, the Panthers should be ranked with 8 + wins.

    Anything less is a failed season.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Speaking of psuX, they play purdue who has there best 3 players out with injuries – QB, WR and D star.

    Easy win in creepy valley?

    Frankly will run the score up for the attention…


  41. So about my question on whether Duke is better than UCF….Now maybe so, although I must add that I really like Coach Fickell!


  42. Really interested in what Whipple has drawn up for tonight. Need some scoring in this one.

    The defense has been pretty steady, but a different challenge tonight, a running QB, hopefully Pitt’s overall defensive speed makes a big difference.


  43. from what I saw last night, the freshman UCF QB is suffering from growing pains .. which is only natural. He made some terrible throws but give Cincy credit …. once they got ahead, they really put a lot of pressure on him. He never got into any type of rhythm


      1. Duke is only as good as their QB. Much like Pitt and pretty much every school. The most sober and most healthy QB will win.


  44. UCF was as dominating as they were because of attitude and swagger and their relentlessness, not because they had more talent. Consistently ranked over 70 in the recruiting rankings. Pitt knocked that shine off. Punched them in the gut and ripped their heart out. Cincy winning does not diminish Pitt’s victory. Pitt just showed them where they belong. Cincy saw how to dispirit them and credit to them. Pitt gave them the blueprint though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Based on the parts of the game I saw last night, things couldn’t have gone much worse for UCF with the fumbles and interceptions they gave up.

      The UCF QB looked pretty ordinary, arm-wise, and played like a true freshman as far as taking care of the ball.

      UCF still made it a close game… Cincy looked decent.

      Go Pitt.


  45. Like I said before, central Florida would be a middle of the road ACC team. But if they got ACC money, they could be Virginia tech like. Very good recruiting and consistent top 20-25. That’s the tech of old.

    Pitt could also be this team and should be getting far better results given the money spent.

    Should be a good game today unlike the product displayed at Heinz last week.


  46. Agreed Tx… Tonight should be a good game to watch win, lose or draw!

    Let’s not forget, McKenzie Milton at QB for UCF makes them a much better and more formidable football team.


  47. Totally agree with Tossing…
    Found out that Duke students are on break..
    School trying to get locals to attend the game via “Durham Days” discount tickets.
    No info on free Fantas to sweeten the pot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Duke is not penn state or UCF! It’ll be closer than it should be since duke is at home, but Pitt has the better team.
      Pitt 27-Duke 21

      Duke has beaten no one even remotely decent this year. Only way we lose is if we don’t show up ready to play…which is always a possibility.


  48. The lack or smaller student body presence for Duke should be a nice help for PITT. Should also help the POV and PITT faithfuls be heard just a tad more. Get vocal gals and guys….. << The PITT football team will surely appreciated it!

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Sorry about this….. Just came in from outside and had the psu game on (hoping they would be losing) and took a quick glance. Hesus, I just cannot stand jimmie “one finger” and that entire sad excuse for a higher educational school. I would disown any family member that would ever think about attending that pedo enabling corrupt school let alone even going there. Good riddance to them………

    Liked by 1 person

  50. For absolutely no other reason than what dissent make sense, makes sense in the ACC in general and Pitt in particular, I think we win big (ish)…something odd like 37-19. HTP

    Liked by 1 person

  51. …what doesn’t * make sense…

    Or “dissent” makes sense…

    Either way, I’ve been way off on all my rational predictions this year, so I might as well be an outlier.


  52. TVax, I’m getting some pics on my text messages but I don’t know how to post them here. ?? I’m even dumber that you thought I was. LOL! Looks like a great time going on in Durham NC.

    and I don’t think I saw any pics posted on the POV this past week.


  53. One post own pantherlair had AJ Davis making the trip to Duke. It’s possible he might play I guess it the post is accurate.


  54. You have to admit this team entertained all who watched – every game except VA.

    Good QB play is huge.

    Defense may have significant numbers of NFL talent players on it . Imagine how good they may be next year when two starting tackles return.

    Never quit is this team’s identity. Which will serve them well in football and life.

    A great, weird, can’t take your eyes off type of game.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well let’s just say that reverse psychology tends to work well with this team…


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