Posted: 9:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7, 2013
Don't look now, but Pitt's game on Saturday against Virginia Tech is all of a sudden a pretty big one.
On paper, it's a surprisingly good matchup and both teams only have one loss. I'm not convinced either is really as good as their record (after all, Pitt was only a few points away from a Duke loss), but at 3-1, Pitt will face 5-1 Virginia Tech on Saturday.
To me, Virginia Tech has the appearance of a good, but not great team. With wins over North Carolina and Georgia Tech, the resume is significantly better than Pitt's. However, the Hokies were also blown out by No. 1 Alabama 35-10 in their opener and had close wins against East Carolina and Marshall. Alabama can simply be explained as Alabama and ECU is surprisingly pretty good. Still, if we're trying to decide if the Hokies are good or great, with those games, I'll slot them as good for now.
Don't mistake that for arrogance, of course. This blog always does a good job of doling out the truth and that's the case here as well.
On the road, Pitt will be hard-pressed to win this game. But do you find yourself looking for reasons Pitt can pull off an upset here? You got it -
I'm not going to drag Pitt's history against Virginia Tech into the mix. That's just silly, folks. Relying on data from games played several years ago is just plain silly. Pitt has given the Hokies fits, but the Panthers have had several new coaches and players since them. Please, don't tell me why the Panthers' 2003 win over Virginia Tech matters. Even a little. Completely irrelevant.
What should count, though, is Pitt's win last year. The Panthers again face Logan Thomas and while the 2.0 version from this year looks better than last year, Pitt was able to shut him down in 2012.
There's also the extra time Pitt has had to prepare for this one. Virginia Tech is coming off of back-to-back games against UNC and Georgia Tech. The Panthers, meanwhile, had this week off and a little bit of extra time to prepare. Yeah, I know, the whole bye week thing. Pitt's history isn't great with them - no doubt about it. But I'll still take the extra preparation anytime you can get it. And plus, Paul Chryst is 2-1 off of bye weeks, so he hasn't been terrible with them.
A smaller factor is that pesky noon kickoff time. It's a road game, but that noon kickoff could mean a slightly late-arriving crowd. And give me a day game against a night game in Blacksburg any day of the week.
Look, I'm not here to tell you Pitt will win this game. I think Virginia Tech has the better team, Tom Savage is coming off of concussion symptoms, and the offense that we held in such high regard just had trouble scoring against Virginia after Ball State just rolled them up for 48 points. Also, keep this in mind - it's the Hokies' defense that could keep Pitt from winning. They struggled against Virginia and Virginia Tech's defense is even better, ranking 12th in the nation in points allowed.
Still, I have a hard time counting Pitt out completely for some of the reasons mentioned above. At first glance, Pitt shouldn't be favored in this game, but they may pull off the upset.