Pitt vs SYR Game Thread & “On Thunder Road”

Here is a nice take on our football team’s season. It was written by Troy (UlteriorMotifs) and we welcome a new writer here on the POV ‘community blog’ !! Thanks Troy –

I’m writing this the night before Pitt’s final regular season game. Hopefully by the time you read this, Pitt will have crushed the Orange and ran their record to 10-2 on the season. (Editor’s Note – This is a SYR gameday thread also) If by some chance, Syracuse upsets the Panthers, that will certainly be fodder for the Same Ole Pitt crowd. But regardless of the outcome against the ’Cuse, this campaign will go down as the most enjoyable Pitt football season of my lifetime.  

That is, at once, both a testament to this season and an indictment of the 40 that came before it. I started attending Pitt games in the Dan Marino era around the age of four. I wore the number 13 in youth sports for years afterward and I will be able to hear the crowd at Pitt Stadium chanting ‘”Huuugh—Greeeen!!!” for as long as I live. But I was too young – six-years old in Marino’s final season — to truly appreciate those teams, and I was definitely too young not to take them for granted. That was back when a 9-3 record, #10 national ranking, and a narrow bowl game loss qualified as a disappointment. Now, after a few decades in the wilderness, that very same result would seem like a gift from the heavens.

Maybe it’s the soft bigotry of low expectations, but 10-2 feels pretty darn good considering Pitt’s only hit the 10-win mark once since Marino took his act to South Florida and hasn’t done it in the regular season since Danny’s junior year. A non-comprehensive list of programs that have won 10 regular season games more than once in that same timeframe: Washington State, Oregon State, Kansas, Kansas State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Illinois, Northwestern, Boston College, Syracuse, and Cincinnati.

It was against that backdrop that I picked Pitt to go 7-5 this year. Three extra wins is some pretty fine gravy, but what really made this season special was not just the record, but the fact that Pitt was actually entertaining, something they’ve rarely been since Walt Harris left town. The transformation of a ho-hum offense into a dominant force that sits near the top of the national rankings is only surpassed by the quantum leap Kenny Pickett made from a QB with a 13-9 TD to INT ratio all the way to fringe Heisman candidate and possible first round draft pick. Of course Pickett is joined by Jordan Addison as one of the best in the nation at his position, but that development, while impressive, is considerably less surprising.

It’s been a while since Pitt has had multiple skill position players that are top five nationally at their positions and that star power has made all the difference. I expected Addison to be an all-conference player-type player and maybe even an honorable mention All-American candidate, but he’s gone far beyond that both statistically and with his clutch play. Stealing that would-be interception and then taking it to the house against Virginia is one of my all-time plays by a Panther. Where quarterback is concerned, you can attribute Pitt’s lack of 10-win seasons to structural reasons and self-inflicted wounds at the administrative level, but the easiest single explanation is that Pitt hasn’t had a QB worthy of high draft consideration since Marino left. That changed this year and so have Pitt’s fortunes.

That’s not to say Pickett and Addison are solely responsible for this team’s success. One example: the line while not great in all aspects has exceeded very modest expectations and played a key role in facilitating Pitt’s offensive juggernaut. But if you pick it apart, this team is not fundamentally different than about 6-8 other Pitt squads over the years, except at QB and WR1. Running backs are very good, but not Shady, Dion, Graham good (yet). The defensive line has dropped off a bit from recent years, same with the secondary. The linebackers are better. Mostly, it’s a wash outside of Pickett and Addison except in one important respect – you can tell this team expects to win and see it’s much more resilient. There’s no “here we go again” with them, although I was definitely thinking that way after the disastrous start against Tennessee.

This season just has a different feel and it built as the year went on. I think it was after the win against Georgia Tech (maybe it was Virginia Tech?) when I posted half-jokingly that it would be just like Pitt to beat Tennessee out-of-conference, catch Clemson in a down year, run the table in the ACC, and then miss out on the CFB playoff because of a loss at home to Western Michigan. The annual defeat to Miami took care of that scenario, but it wasn’t too far off.

The loss to Western Michigan will always sting because a 12-1 Pitt with its lone loss to a solid Miami team would have been in the conversation for the playoff until the announcement, which is publicity and recruiting value you just can’t buy. As a fan, it would have been great to extend that sense of relevance just a little but further. On the other hand, a one-loss team from this year’s ACC wouldn’t have jumped undefeated Cincinnati or a one-loss Notre Dame or Oklahoma State. And even if they did, getting the 4-seed and a beatdown from Georgia would trigger PTSD from the last time Pitt won the conference and went to a major bowl against Utah.   

I’d be content with a Peach Bowl matchup against Notre Dame (I think Pitt would beat them) and a lot more nervous if they drew Ole Miss. But I know they would acquit themselves well in either case. More than anything, it’s nice to be in the game, nice to have national caliber stars at skill positions other than running back, and nice to have an exciting, effective offense that puts pressure on the opponent. Along with 10-win seasons, these qualities have been in rare supply.

Blueblood programs and conference critics may turn up their noses at Pitt’s season, but as someone who came of age during the decline of the 80s and the debacle of the 90s, this season has been a great ride and the most enjoyable of my lifetime.

As Bruce Springsteen said in Thunder Road:

Don’t run back inside

Darling, you know just what I’m here for

So you’re scared, and you’re thinking

That maybe we ain’t that young anymore

Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night

You ain’t a beauty, but, hey, you’re alright

Oh, and that’s alright with me


P/S: BTW – I saw Springsteen three times in person – once when I was working backstage at the Syria Mosque…

239 thoughts on “Pitt vs SYR Game Thread & “On Thunder Road”

  1. Thanks UlteriorMotifs. My favorite username other than mine!

    I don’t think we’d fare well in the playoffs so I’m not too concerned about that. I’m concerned about Wake Forest. They have a very solid team with a good qb and we have trouble with these. I expect the over/under to be ridiculously high.

    Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t be sad if we sat Kenny in the second half or even sooner. If we lose him, it’s over.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent job, Troy.

    Bonus points for incorporating “juggernaut.”

    I’m a bit nervous but hopeful concerning tonight’s game.

    Go Pitt.

    PS: UCF QB Dillon Gabriel, the lefty, has entered the portal…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pitt mens soccer team beats Hofstra 4-0 to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals next week. They will play the winner of Notre Dame vs Wake Forest. ND beat us 2x this year (once away and at home during the ACC tourney), and WF beat us once down there. My French buddies from the vb game scored today!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. OSU, Bama, Ped St all losing. What can go wrong?

    I remember a very cocky Pitt team in 76, undefeated and full of confidence getting their butts kicked by Cuse for 3 quarters at Pitt Stadium and if not for a favorable ref call (Tom Bertha) would have lost that game!


    1. Was that the game where we held Syracuse on a 4th and 1 deep in our territory? I always wondered about that spot.

      Cheers from Los Angeles!


  5. Love the article, Troy. Re: Syracuse, I spent the longest 18 months of my life there. Did catch a Pitt game at their Old venue, “Crumbling Old Archibald,“ aka “COA.” We won, and Rooster Jones or Gordon “Too Much” Jones had a big day. Details are lost in the vapors of the 100 proof antifreeze we had to drink to keep the joints bending. Sounds like the new place (Carrier Dome), isn’t much better. I’d dearly like Pitt to lay a whoop in’ on the ‘Cuse, not to avenge those stolen months, but for pure reasons associated with our worthy lads getting to double digit wins and single digit rankings. It’s overdue!


    Formerly LA Panther.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I thought the PSUs would beat Mich. State handily – but down go the Lions. What’s that make them 7-5?

    Still probably go to the Rose Bowl… 🤔

    Go Pitt.


  7. Pitt women’s basketball in a dog fight with South Dakota right now. Pitt shooting poorly tonight and the absence of Jayla Everett really showing up. Liatu King not being Super Woman tonight. Pitt even getting out-rebounded tonight…

    This is Pitt’s 3rd game in three days.

    Go Pitt.


  8. Think there might have been a Men’s Basketball Game today. Not sure based upon the opponent and the final score.

    Been saying for TWO years that Capel can’t Coach or Recruit.

    I get it that most Kool-Aiders are now pretty much on the can’t Recruit part.

    The can’t Coach part seems to be a little harder.

    But think you might be coming along.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Who’s blaming the offense for this so far?

    Anyone caring to see us try to have a long drive rather than score quickly so our defense gets their needed rest?


  10. Not even complaining about the D any more. They’ve stunk all year. Good pass rushers and that’s it. Nobody can cover, petrishen is terrible…..and the coaches won’t adjust to help the lack of athletes.

    So…..let’s go Kenny!

    We will have to score 50 next week. Can you imagine petrishen or Hallett trying to cover those Wake receivers?

    Good news is, we can score 50 on them if we eliminate penalties.

    So, just stay healthy and get the heck out of the Dome


    1. Cuse looks better than Pitt – the Panthers not ready to play.

      Maybe they think they will win #10 next week…


  11. Sadly, Pickett needs to shine tonight for his Heisman hyped up coach.

    Bama and tOSU QB’s stumbled today.


  12. Jacques-Louis cannot block to save his life. At least Tipton can do that if you are going to throw those sideways passes.


  13. Cuse feels like they won that half.

    I’ve got another 3 TD’s in the bag – I told Whip & Duzz to take a snooze at halftime – Bart & Hammond will carry the load in the 2nd half.

    Go Pitt!


  14. OT – Pitt women basketballers played a poor game tonight and lost in OT. Pitt struggled to score all night.

    So Pitt goes 1-2 at St. Thomas. The shame of it is, they had a shot at all three games if their top scorer was on the trip…

    Pitt: Always something…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Haven’t commented since I lost my phone in a pond.
    Thanks Reed for your work and all the rest of contributors.
    Am still having fun with this game despite an inoperable defense. But gotta give Syracuse a bit of credit for gameplanning well.
    Belated Thanksgiving to all of you. And stay alive Ike!


  16. Went to a Clemson vs. South Carolina tailgate at a bucolic off campus site. Didn’t stay for the game. Got home just in time to see Marlowe Wax make a play. Pitt D looking good. Pitt O not up to snuff.


  17. Sitting at Sleeze bar w Pitt fan Comcastites 42 tvs and Pitt Cuse on the smallest. Women parading by w lots of tats and face metal. Locals actually bought us a round!


    Liked by 3 people

  18. RE: J Wayne
    Really, right, Majors? Folks are banged up a bit it seems.
    No Izzy either.
    We shall see, lol.
    Still got the ACC Championship to play for. So let’s not go nuts here tonight is my hope.
    Baber’s and Nard are friends. The Orange never feel like a rival and it’s hard to get too worked-up over this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I, state your name…..”state your name”……..I still watch that movie at the beginning of football season as it is my own return to campus flick.


  19. The offense is struggling with all the injuries. Less time for Kenny and guys not open. Can’t be relying on sjl.


  20. Pitt’s offense hasn’t looked the same since Mack was injured. Besides Addison we used to have Barden stretch the field on occasions and we lost him also.—This game is a toss up right now especially if we give them a couple of turnovers in the second half.—-And Wake Forest will walk away with the game next week if our offense doesn’t begin to function at a much higher level then they are playing at now.


  21. We have been lucky. Bad fumble by Cuse in first half and bad face mask penalty. But we are due for some luck I guess!


  22. Made the drive this morning with tickets to Pittston but stopped and stayed for DeMuro’s white and pizza L’oven red and wings

    You’re welcome


    1. Hold the phone there tvax1… I LIVE IN PITTSTON! What were you doing here? DeMuro’s is 1 minute from my office, and Pizza L’Oven is great!


  23. Watching with my son we are laughing…..and guess we have to remember and appreciate the offense looks like dog crap and we are up by 3 touchdowns.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. If we don’t get pressure right away, we simply don’t have any athletes in the d back core. ALL receivers run past all of them every play. Seems impossible for this to happen year after year. You’d think statistically that we would accidentally run closely next to a wide receiver by accident once or twice a game???

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Hallet has one job. Don’t let anyone behind you. And…. The guy runs past him like he’s standing still!

    Again, will any Duzz’s team ever have a pass defense??


  26. Hallet was blocked out on a bit of a pick play on that Cuse TD. Well executed by the Cuse WR setting the pick by delaying his route.

    No time to let up – Cuse isn’t going away.


  27. Addison losing his footing … no chance to go up and get the ball. I agree greedy and with our OL getting push, why do that unless Whipple wants to get backups in soon


  28. Oy vey I wanted Pitt to score another TD to enable KP to sit out the rest of the game and give Patti or Beville some playing time.


  29. why isn’t anyone complaining about the acc refs tonight? I have seen a few personal fouls against syracuse that were questionable at best. Habbak has a career waiting in WFF if the NFL doesn’t work out!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Slow start but Pitt pulls it out.
    I said last yr after the BC and NC State games that I didn’t think Duzz would ever get 10 wins. I stand corrected and happy to be wrong.

    Feels good. See some of you next weekend in Charlotte.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. Hope our injured guys are ready for next week, but all year long, next man up has been stout.

    Defense was awesome today. Maybe Phil Campbell’s best game. Tallandier played well for Hill.

    Stopped their running game cold.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I thought PN or at least Whipple should have been fired after last year. I was wrong. Come on folks, everybody that predicted doom and gloom needs to admit they were wrong. Hail to Pitt. Great season by PN.

    O recruiting took a while but it improved greatly.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I thought I was pretty patient with PN and wanted to see what happened this year, then after the Western Michigan loss it was over for me, I wanted him fired. There’s still a lot of things I’m not crazy about with Narduzzi, football-wise, but I’m not going to argue with 10-2; I was (proudly) wrong. I know one thing, 10-2 is better than 7-5.

      PS: I still wouldn’t mind if Whipple retired after this year and they gave Marion a shot (depending on how he’s viewed by PN).


      Liked by 1 person

  33. We should move up two spots and maybe 3 if oklahoma loses, so we should be 14th or 15th at worst.

    I think we beat wake after watching their game. It will depend on our DL versus their OL. With some luck we might get another bump after next weekend. Maybe end up at 12 or 13 going into the not BVBA Bowl.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed, saw that score of 3-7 in 1st q…. byu winning! Gonna put the kabosh on them!

        Oklahoma may only drop 3-4 spots if they lose to okst. I didn’t realize both ok and okst each had only one loss. The big12 has a weird playoff game. I think it is 1 vs 2.


  34. Congrats to our team of Pitt 3-stars for winning 10 games.

    And remember, that’s two games more than Coach Duzz’s ceiling…. 🤔

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Wake has an enrollment of 4000 students…even if they all show up from over the last 10 years, it’s 40K.

      Richt should have called out the U’s and his fanbase in Miami. Cause they never show up.

      Liked by 3 people

  35. Duzz must have had a longer dues paying requirement. Since his old man was a D2 HC.

    Frank Beamer did far worse than Duz at VT before his Year 7. So……

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Easiest games were on the road this year if you look at it. The season aligned with our 5,6 & 7 year players, getting their toughest games at home, after some exhibition games. Not sure we hit the 50 point standard against above .500 teams in the acc this year. Not complaining about the number of wins as it will be better than the hoop team total for the year.


  36. Congratulations to all you guys and gals for hanging in there with PITT, some more than others but it’s been one heck of a rocky road.

    PITT wins 2 more games and becomes the second team in PITTs storied football history to win 12 games in a season. So go ahead put that in your pipe and smoke it or like Fran, light up a Cuban and enjoy.

    Liked by 12 people

    1. Ike, I love your positivity. We should all stay positive—for example, a couple years ago I fell down the stairs. Instead of getting all upset, I just thought to myself “Dang, that’s the fastest I’ve moved in years.”

      Hang in there, my friend.

      Liked by 8 people

    2. Having two really good seasons out of forty is really kind of bad and nothing to gloat about. We are not mountaineers and should act like we have been there before…however long ago!! Let’s go about finishing our business.

      Is this the first step to being competitive every year, maybe? The great news is that we are going to find out, probably as early as next year! We should savor this, but also expect something more than 7 wins more often than not.

      Don’t get me wrong. I am enjoying this season alotly…:)

      OK lost and they were at 10. BYU (13th) currently leading USC, but USC driving in 2nd quarter. Wisconsin 14 and TexAM15, lost, so easily two spots. A three place jump would be great before ship week but i don’t think OK falls too far. I like Ike!


  37. PSU at 7 wins. 60+million more in budget. 3 million more in HC salary, millions more for assistant salary and facilities. F Penn State.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. Interesting fact:
    ACC regular season conference wins since the conference alignment began in 2014:

    Clemson 59
    Pitt 40
    Miami 40
    VT 36
    FSU 35
    NC State 34
    UNC 33
    Louisville 33
    Virginia 28
    GT 27
    WF 26
    BC 25
    Duke 20
    Syracuse 18

    Not sure Duzz’ seat should be anywhere near the top of any hot seat list!?

    Liked by 9 people

  39. I do’t expect us to duplicate the Clemson rushing attack. Pitt’s key to success in the Title game will be pressure non the Wake QB IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Three cheers for all the POVers that advocated for Gavin Bartholomew to get more opportunities in the Pitt offense. Perhaps Whipple will finally figure out a way to eliminate those ineffective sideline passes by giving Bartholomew and our backs more swing passes in the future. I doubt it but one can always hope.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. He’s the real deal. And don’t forget, he’s a true freshman rumbling and stumbling.
      He destroyed three orangemen on that catch and run he had before the touchdown! Baaaaaad Bart! Love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Sometimes the stars align. KP came back, Addison is a stud, The O-line got good and has depth. We have two tight ends and just enough depth at wide receiver. A decent running game with three productive backs.

    The defense overcame the loss of 5 impact players, is really good against the run and has a solid pass rush, a little weak against a good passing game, but pretty strong in the Red zone and on third downs.

    Here’s to all the guys that played that extra season and made it the best in 40 years.

    Here is to the stars that aligned and gave Pitt a great home schedule and beatable teams on the road.

    Here is to Coach Narduzzi who put it all together and Whipple for his passing game genius.

    Here is to the POV and other fans that made Heinz Field a home field advantage.

    Liked by 10 people

  42. Here is to Ike the Numero Uno Kool-Aid Drinker IKE, and all the other Kool-Aid Men and Women, too the middle of the roaders and the doubters that have been won over. A special mention to Dan72, his outrageously bad early season predictions and his going to a biker bar last night, let’s hope he survived.
    Here is to Dan and the rest of us vintage Panther Fans who were students through the bad times, experienced the Glory Days and long enough to see one more 10 win season.

    Here is to Fran, Wolfe and JoeL who welcome all of us to their excellent pre and post game celebrations and to all the guys that travel great distances to support their team. You guys are special.

    Here is to everyone that will venture to Carolina this week, really loyal fans and the best of us. I would be there if not for a long scheduled surgery. I know you will be loud and will be heard on TV.

    Here is to the Stars that aligned to give us Wake instead of the other two, our best chance for an ACC Championship.

    Savor this week, it may not take another 40 years, but who knows.

    Liked by 9 people

  43. Kudos to AD Heather Lyke and Chancellor Gallagher for having the patience to stick with Coach Narduzzi when others would have made a change just to show they are invested/supportive/committed or whatever other euphemism that’s been thrown around over the years regarding the football program. Now let’s get busy with that extension before we lose him. I’m hopeful that he will show loyalty to us since we have stuck with him through “mediocre” years. Fingers crossed!

    Liked by 4 people

  44. If you watched the Wake game you noticed the unusual practice of the QB handoff with a long pause, where he can pull it out and then pass. Love to see Cancy blow that up a few times. It is very effective and they have two really good big wide receivers. Hartman is very accurate so we will need a lot of pressure from our line and some well timed blitzes.

    They are very similar to us in that their offense is much stronger than their defense. They appear much more methodical on offense with the ability for long time consuming drives. Let’s hope Izzy is back and healthy, so that we can make some time consuming drives as well. Three backs is better than two.

    The Clemson D-line totally blew them up, I don’t expect that from ours but they should be the difference if they can hurry Hartman and get him on the ground enough times.

    Like us, they won 10 and lost two, going to be a battle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kancey, Haba and D.Alexander have the talent and wing-span to tackle both the QB and RB as the ball sits with both – ala Aaron Donald a few year’s back while dominating opponents during his senior season. I believe that game was against Duke.

      Liked by 1 person

  45. UlteriorMotifs – very fine article – I re-read it this morning (pre-game was fast & furious) and not only was Pitt’s season to date very entertaining, your article was as well.

    You were a young-inz when you started watching Pitt FB – I was in school when yinz saw Marino at Pitt. It has been a loooong 40 years. For at least one year, Pitt can hang it’s hat on another 10 win season.

    Now if we could find a way to fix the men’s BB mess.


    Liked by 3 people

  46. A peak at next week’s match-up from the BleacherReport – Alex Ballentine:

    “The real interesting matchup to watch will be how much Pitt wants to lean on the ground game. The (W_F) Deacs are 113th in yards allowed per rush and have given up over 200 yards a game (on the ground). It could be a big day for running back Vincent Davis (Izzy & Hammond).

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.