“To Repeat or Not Repeat, That is the Question…”

Editor’s Note: From our newest POV writer, Joe L., we have a great conversation starter on the subject of we readers predicting how our OOC and ACC games will play out. Thanks Joe and keep them coming. Because the original article is over 3500 words Joe and I decided to split the article into out of conference games in the season and then in the second half of the article we will address the conference games.

Enjoy some very nice writing! Please share with us your thoughts and predictions in the comments section below – HTP!

Long time readers of the POV know that one of the rites of mid to late August is the annual prognostication of the Panthers’ football season record by many of our posters.

I normally dodge that exercise like a few others (Huff+III comes to mind) because so much can happen to affect the outcome of games – injuries, bounces, turnovers, inexplicable play calls by coaches, missed calls by refs, injuries (yeah, I said that twice), changes in targeting rules and the weather. Just too many variables.

But I’m going to do an about-face, stick my neck out and make a prediction. Why this year? I’m not totally sure to be honest. Its not the easiest year to jump in this pool. The last twelve months have been the best we’ve seen from Pitt football since my youth. We’ve lost some key guys, the schedule gets a bit harder and yet there is optimism among many in the fan base that coaching stability and patience are starting to pay off.

I’ll go through my thoughts game by game so that you will at least know exactly how I arrived at my guess. Hopefully that provides good fodder for discussion and debate. Its clear from the posts in Richard’s last few analyses that many of you are ready to engage in that discussion. So, without further ado…

Game 1 – The Brawl I’m not a big fan of big opening games. Especially a regional rival like the Hoopies or the Peds.  Win the game and the euphoria that follows can quickly crash with a loss in a dreaded trap game that is sure to follow. Lose and it seems like the world has ended before the season has really begun. Dyspepsia of the soul comes to mind. Its just not healthy.

Be that as it may, the folks who run Division 1 College Football – the TV networks – need good inventory for Labor Day weekend, lest everyone skip the viewing and head to the Ribfest (in the old days it was the Pirates Labor Day doubleheader at Three Rivers). Games that are best played on a weekend before bowl season are now foisted upon us before we’ve even gotten into game-watching shape…. No stretching of emotional muscles, reps at mixing Crown, Ice and Ginger Ale or getting the new routes down to Frisch’s for wings (or Prantl’s for burnt almond tortes) due to the latest road construction. Not to mention the impact of whatever new structure is being raised on the North Shore.

And thus, Pitt opens with a nationally televised, prime time game replete with College GameDay and the attention of the college football world. I guess this is one price of becoming relevant. Mediocre programs need not worry about these things and most years we didn’t. Just had to worry about not soiling the sheets.

Anybody think Narduzzi is gonna play it vanilla so he doesn’t show his hand for the next game? Me neither. If they play it simple, it will because they aren’t ready for anything fancier.

My thoughts on the actual game itself are as follows: On offense, the Hoopies are good at QB (JT Daniels) and RB. The WRs are a question mark. But the OL is really good and perhaps the best in the B12. Pitt’s D matches up well with them against the run, but if Daniels is ready to go and they find someone to catch the ball, we will have a challenge. I see this as a push.

On defense, they are good upfront, but things trail off after that. LBs and DBs are a question mark. If Slovis or Patti gets good protection, I like Pitt’s offense. Is this the coming out party for Pitt’s receivers? I think that’s quite possible.

Both teams are facing change in special teams and both lost really good returners. It’s a toss-up.

On the crowd and vibe thing… this will be the most raucous home atmosphere these Pitt players will have experienced.  As the bus rolls down General Robinson Street, they may believe Kenny Chesney is in town. The noise coming from Red 5A alone…

Neither teams’ players have been through a Brawl before and are too young to really feel for it the way prior generations have. But I could see the students and Panther faithful getting the Hoopies on a couple false starts.

Like most openers, I don’t think either team will come out hitting on all cylinders. It might be a little sloppy in fact. But barring a refereeing crew hired by Mike Tranghese, I like Pitt in this game. I gave the points (-6.5), but was not confident in either offense enough to take the over (54 points).

Game 2 – The Johnny Majors Classic Redux  When was the last time Pitt played in two regular season games with their own commemorative logo in the same season?

I’m going to come right out here and say that while I think it’s a big game for two evenly matched teams, I think Pitt probably loses this one. No Rocky Top every time a Vols player does something positive… no running out of the T… we will have Sweet Caroline with boisterous refrains of “Lets Go Pitt!”… and yet I still think the Vols win.

Josh Heupel has had a year to scheme for this game and some folks see Hendon Hooker as a Heisman candidate. Despite his missed throws in the Pitt game, he hit 68% of his throws and had a 31-3 TD/Int ratio last season. And he gets points from me for having the smarts to get away from Justin Fuente.

Like Pitt, the Vols return a lot of starting offensive linemen and the running backs room is good.  But their wide receivers are what I’m most concerned about. Their #1 from last year will be paired up with USC transfer Bru McCoy, who was #1 rated at WR in the country coming out of HS.

My gut tells me Pitt may get torched by the Vol passing game. Pitt dug itself in a hole last year in Knoxville and was able to come back due to Pickett and Addison (along with a great throw by Jared Wayne on a gadget play). I’ll need to see some evidence that we will have similar abilities before changing my view.

All of that said, Pitt can win if they get to Hooker (who I assume will start) consistently, contain him and force him into rushed throws or throwaways. In other words, what we have done to him the last two times we faced him. But we will need to get a lead and keep the Vols offense off the field with a strong running game. It’s a tall order in this era where no lead is safe.

Game 3 – The Panthers Strike Back?  Our lads head to Kalamazoo with revenge on their minds. Western Michigan lost both its QB Kaleb Eleby and WR Skyy Moore, so we got them, right? Its easy to assume a win, especially if Pitt showed a lot in games 1&2 or lost a tough one versus the Vols.

I’m not pencilling this in as an automatic win for a couple reasons. They have some Pittsburgh area kids on the roster who – like last year – want to have a say in the matter. Former Panther Bricen Garner (1st team MAC last year) returns on defense and is joined by 3 other transfers from St Francis… all three are from Pgh.

Then there is the matter of the QB – Norwin’s Jack Salopek. Those from the Pittsburgh area know the kid is a winner – even if from a lower WPIAL class. If one goes back and looks at his recruiting, it looked like he might have chosen Pitt, but perhaps the offer was soft. So he has zero motivation to play a good game against Pitt, right? As we know, the Broncos have a good coach who has the program running well and I’m sure he’d like to give it to Duzz again.

I think they give Pitt some trouble early, but Pitt’s superior talent rises up and ends up winning the game. No surprise upset here, although I predict some here will be upset that the score isn’t more lopsided.

Game 4 – Narduzzi’s Homecoming I cannot imagine (without LSD) a scenario where the Panthers lose to Rhode Island. The disparity in talent is big and they don’t have a great program. Yes, I know its Pitt. It will be a big, confidence building win.

Folks, if you are keeping score at home, that’s an out of conference record at 3-1. I’m guessing many of you might also have projected this on your own. I believe the likelihood of this is 65%. I also believe the likelihood of going 0-4 in this stretch is zero, 1-3 is 10%, and going undefeated is 25%. Please do not ask me to show my work, as my finger is still wet and the wind could change.

And with that, we will also take a look at the ACC slate which can be found in Joe’s ACC games article which will post up in a day or two.


48 thoughts on ““To Repeat or Not Repeat, That is the Question…”

  1. In the Brawl, Pitt is the better team but it’s a rival that would love nothing more than to register the first win at AgriSure

    Tennessee may be favored. If Pitt beats WVU, then it may have a tough time focusing in practice for the Vols

    I’ll worry about WMU only if Pitt won the first two, and I’ll worry about URI only if Pitt won the first three

    I’ll predict 3-1

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. 3-1 sounds about right. And if there is a loss, I see it being to Tennessee, not the Couchtorchers from Morganhole.


  3. Mr Joe L you are a writer! LOL when I see a patsy on the schedule like the R.I. Rams (Duzzi’s alma mater) I think about our game against the mighty Blue Hens of The University of Delaware>>>>if EMEL was here we would get a loud and clear OY VEY!

    3-1 sounds about right as we come off a win against the Hoopies and fail to have our feet on the ground….I am looking forward to your next article.


  4. Joe – Great article. I also have Pitt 3-1 in the OOC. Looking forward to reading your take on the ACC schedule.

    Prediction – I bet you have Pitt beating GT and Duke.


  5. If PITT is as good as they think they are, then 4-0.

    If I’m going to “keep it real” , then 3-1.

    If I go with my heart, then back to 4-0.

    If I go with the favorite team in each game, then 4-0.

    If I go with my prediction tradition, 4-0 all day baby!

    Any which way, this is going to be a fun two games. Reed, Salopek being from Norwin, is a pretty big school.

    Cardioversion coming up in early Oct.

    We All We Got
    We All We Need!

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Thank you Reed my friend, expecting smooth sailing and maybe an appearance at Red 5-A in the making. Just wrote a short note to Eric W. (missing Wlat), possibly a bucket list away game this year? Thanks to everyone in advance. Love this place…


  6. For posterity, I call .500

    Hoopies will win by a tooth at the goal line to end the game

    Vols will crush Pitt. Think Okie State and sleeping fans.


  7. It will be a glorious weekend. Both kids are off to college. First time in 20 years, that I have zero parental responsibilities. I feel 20 years younger. I plan to go on a bourbon bender among other things. College is great. Daycare for 50 year olds.


  8. Great article JoeL! I see the pre-season slate as you do, although I have a college (AB) buddy coming to the Tennessee game with me who has a daughter at Tennessee, so I would love to send him home w an L.


  9. Mark, I have a neighborhood buddy who’s son will be a freshman at Tennessee and I feel exactly the same. They should be at the tailgate for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. OT — Pete Carril died, age 92. One of THE best basketball coaches ever. I loved watching Princeton games. RIP

    Pitt prediction: to start, 3-1. For the season, 9-3

    Liked by 2 people

    1. His offense was unstoppable by any team. Pick and roll after pick and roll, then when you weren’t looking back screen and back door layup! RIP Pete


  11. Editor’s Note: Thanks so much Joe. If you readers want to write a really long comment on your predictions please do not hesitate to consider first zapping it to me at: rkohberger@gmail.com and turning it into a POV article. We still have a bunch of time before our opening game so there is room for a lot of new articles (and new writers!!) It’s no surprise that the main contributors to the POV now are readers and commenters (Mike, John, Rich, Erie, Joe L., Major Majors, etc.) who took the plunge. The more the merrier as they say…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve changed my prediction.

    Pitt will go 4-0 for the first unbeaten OOC in program history. However, in mid October, it will surface that academic record of one of the transfers was incorrect and Pitt will have to forfeit all of its Ws to that point

    Sent from my iPhone



  13. WVU’s offense will be much improved. I believe their O line is all returning but they weren’t good last year. Nothing special at RB or WR IMO. They will have a better OC and QB play. Their D is usually pretty good but it is built to stop pass heavy offenses. I think Pitt has a talent advantage.
    Their offense will be very similar to what they have been doing. Still Air Raid based. They will have to watch BC tape to see what Cignetti brings to the table. Frank still concerns me. I hope Pitt can still put up lots of points and score quickly when needed. Also, I hope they still go hurry up to change the pace of the game.

    TN is another story. Lots of talent and that freaking super fast no huddle offense. Their HC is good. I can see Pitt losing to them.


  14. Word press is messing with my mind, doesn’t keep me logged in anymore. I can’t “like” anyone either?


  15. The Whipple system and his system qb are gone. Look for Pitt to run the ball 60% of the time. A good run game and a very good defense is a difficult combination to beat. Hoping for a 4 and 0 start. H2P


    1. I would add that the above stat may be impacted because the winning record and some blowout wins tends to cause conservative play calling (running more), to grind clock towards the second half of the contest. Just an observation from afar.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Not confused Reed many of those runs were by KP, both by design and scrambles. Even sacks count as runs. Also many runs took place when the game was in hand.


    1. Reed, Beville transferred to Oklahoma. I tried to find info about how he is doing and unfortunately, I am unable to come across anything from Sooners Nation.


  16. I suffer from two virus’s….Covid and “Dreaded Pitt optimism!” I got my Booster for Covid and will get my booster for DPI 9/1when bonehead Duzz blows the WVU game.

    I like Pitt to go 11-1 with a loss to Miami!


  17. I will go with the 3-1 with a loss to Tennessee. I do believe we could beat Tennessee but there will be a letdown against them after the Backyard Brawl with Game Day in the stadium. A lot will depend on who Pitt’s quarterback is going to be. Hopefully they will at least use Patti inside the 10. I am still worried about all the hype about Slovis. I seem to remember a bunch of hype about another USC quarterback coming to Pitt. That did not go well!


  18. We are all mostly optimistic at this point. But I’m guessing that Pitt will need to go 14-0 or Tex will find some fault with the Pitt program. I’m hoping that a more balanced offense will help Pitt on days when an opponent’s defense shuts down either the passing or running offense. The defense may need to win a couple of games such as Tennessee if the offense comes out flat. A few turnovers that leaves Pitt with a short field to score wouldn’t hurt.


  19. Interesting write up that Bernie provided about the Tennessee assessment of its upcoming schedule. I found it interesting that they feel this is basically a rebuilding year for Pitt since we lost Pickett and Addison. They should keep thinking that and maybe Pitt will catch them by surprise.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I think Pitt beats Tennessee because Narduzzi is a better coach vs Heupel’s offense than Heupel is vs Pitt’s defense. Talk about being stubborn, Heupel has lost 2 games in a row vs Pitt because of his stubbornness in playcalling and adjustments in critical offensive situations.


  21. JoeL – A most excellent job of putting your thoughts on paper! Makes total sense, too.

    I’m big-time worried about Pitt’s offense spinning it’s wheels early on. Will Slovis be ready to handle the big-game pressure? How about two big-games in a row to open the season? Yikes.

    At least these games will really help prepare us for the ACC season…

    Go Pitt.


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