Sooo Boston College. Pitt has the double motivation of revenge and getting their noses bloodied last week. In addition to that, through three games BC has given up 11 sacks. BC also doesn’t seem to have much of a running game to lean on. They’ve totaled just 211 yards on the ground – 44 of which belong to QB Phil Jurkovec. NC State came in averaging 200+ yards per game. So I’d expect Pitt to be able to stop the run pretty easily and get after Jurk.
Jurkovec, of course is the x-factor. We all know the story. A lifelong Pitt fan who spurned Pitt for Notre Dame, and then spurned Pitt again for the opportunity to be an immediate starter at BC. Well, lets see how much of a fan he is of our defense. Jurk threw for 313 vs UNC in the opener – mostly playing dink and dunk (5.6 YPA), but seemed to find the longball vs Duke (300 yards on just 23 attempts, 13.0 YPA).
I would be remiss to not point out that BC’s 6’5″ tight end Hunter Long has 25 receptions for 270 yards. He dominated Duke, catching 7 of 8 targets for 93 yards and a TD, and earned a PFF receiving grade of 92.6 last week. NC state exposed a glaring Tight End weakness last week, and it’s one that I pointed out in the preseason. If Jurkovec has time the Tight End down the seam is going to be open all day, and Long is a guy that will make us pay.
Our own passing game meanwhile will have to contend with on of the better pass defenses in the ACC. BC gives up just 223 yards per game through the air. On the flip side, BC has allowed 146 yards per game on the ground so look for Mark Whipple to run the same running play six times in a row until it works.
Pitt is favored by six on the road, which I don’t like. ESPN’s crazy algorithm says it’s basically a toss up (Pitt 52% / BC 48%). Me? I want to buy into the revenge and focus narrative, and we all know that Pitt can play with nearly anybody in the league when they are up for it. But last week’s game combined with a quality Quarterback (Jurkovec), exceptional Tight End (Hunter Long), and Pitt’s injury-depleted roster makes me wary.
Pitt 20 – BC 24. Prove me wrong fellas. Prove me wrong.