The defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions Pittsburgh Panthers are coming to Charlottesville on Saturday to tackle the Virginia Cavaliers. The stakes are excessive on this duel as Pitt can grow to be the ninth ACC workforce to qualify for the Bowl with a win over UVA, whereas Virginia must win every of their final three video games to succeed in the six-win threshold to a bowl recreation within the first season of the Tony Elliott period.
Read on for a full Pittsburgh at Virginia preview, together with watching particulars, stat comparisons, offensive and defensive scouting reviews, and a rating prediction.
Who: Pittsburgh Panthers (5-4, 2-3 ACC) at Virginia Cavaliers (3-6, 1-5 ACC)
When: Saturday 12 November at 12 midday
Where: Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia
How to see: ACC community
How to stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
all-time streak: Pittsburgh leads 9-4
Last assembly: Pitt defeated Virginia 48-38 in Pittsburgh final season.
About Below: 40.0
Opponent’s snapshot: Pittsburgh
2021: 11-3, 7-1AC | ACC champions
2022: 5-4, 2-3AC
Wins: in opposition to West Virginia 38-31, in opposition to Western Michigan 34-13, in opposition to Rhode Island 45-24, in opposition to Virginia Tech 45-29, in opposition to Syracuse 19-9
Losses: in opposition to Tennessee 34-27 (OT), in opposition to Georgia Tech 26-21, in Louisville 24-10, in North Carolina 42-24
2021 was a magical season for Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt Panthers, who gained the ACC Championship for the primary time in program historical past. Pittsburgh misplaced many abilities from that workforce, significantly on offense, together with Heisman finalist quarterback Kenny Pickett and Biletnikoff Prize-winning extensive receiver Jordan Addison. Still, the Panthers introduced again loads of expertise defensively and had been touted as one of many prime groups within the convention coming into the season and had been picked to complete second within the ACC Coastal, simply behind Miami.
Pitt had two thrilling video games in a row early within the season: a win over West Virginia and an additional time loss to a Tennessee workforce that may very well be destined for the College Football Playoffs. Those outcomes solely elevated expectations for the Panthers to defend their ACC title. After cleansing up the non-conference recreation with victories over Rhode Island and Western Michigan, Pitt stumbled over a 26-21 dwelling loss to a Georgia Tech workforce that had simply fired its head coach. Since then, it has been hit and miss for the Panthers, who beat Virginia Tech however then suffered back-to-back losses to Louisville and North Carolina earlier than bouncing again with a formidable defensive show final week and the then-No. 20 Syracuse 19-9.
Pitt is formally out of the operating for a return journey to the ACC Championship, however with dwelling video games in opposition to Duke after which in Miami to wrap up the common season, this season might nonetheless finish quite a lot of methods for the Panthers.
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Pittsburgh Offense vs. Virginia Defense
The Panthers rank mid-table within the ACC on each scoring offense (eighth place with 29.2 factors per recreation) and complete offense (seventh place with 401.4 yards per recreation), and far of their success is on this season comes from their floor recreation. Pitt ranks 4th within the ACC with 179.8 speeding yards per recreation, pushed largely by Israel Abanikanda, one of the vital dynamic operating backs in all of faculty soccer. Abanikanda is the ACC’s main rusher at 135.8 speeding yards per recreation — the second finest rusher on the record averaging beneath 90 yards per match. He is the one ACC tailback to surpass the 1,000-yard speeding mark to this point this season and has rushed for 1,086 yards and 16 speeding touchdowns. Needless to say, UVA 11’s protection will need to have eyes on Pitt’s star, who runs again each time he is on the sphere.
With that in thoughts, Abanikanda will doubtless be working at rather less than 100% this Saturday. He missed final week’s recreation in opposition to Syracuse with an harm and is anticipated to be again for the Virginia recreation however might solely have a restricted variety of snaps. The Panthers have a deep operating again room, nonetheless, as Rodney Hammond, C’Borius Flemister and Vincent Davis have all picked up important carries this season and are in a position to ease Abanikanda’s pressure. So no matter Abanikanda’s standing, count on Pitt to run the ball rather a lot, particularly contemplating the workforce has struggled to cross the ball this season.
Kedon Slovis joined Pitt from USC because the quarterback answer to switch Kenny Pickett. Slovis wasn’t unhealthy, however in fact he could not repeat the manufacturing of the 2021 ACC Footballer of the Year. He accomplished 59.3% of his passes for 1,737 yards however threw simply 5 touchdowns in six interceptions. His prime receivers are Jared Wayne (38 catches for 674 yards and a landing) and Konata Mumpfield (26 catches for 348 yards and a landing), however tight finish Gavin Bartholomew can also be a menace with two touchdowns.
UVA protection ought to edge Pitt’s passing recreation because the Cavaliers rank third in passing protection within the ACC, making a gift of simply 204.0 yards per recreation. The runner-up in Virginia has been a revelation this season, led by cornerbacks Anthony Johnson and Fentrell Cypress II, who proceed to rank among the many finest gamers within the convention for passing protection. Johnson, who is taken into account the ACC’s finest lockdown nook this season with 13 cross defenses and two interceptions, earned an invitation to Reese’s Senior Bowl on Thursday.
The Virginia cross rush has 30 sacks a yr, led by Chico Bennett Jr., the ACC’s sack chief, with seven sacks. That’s simply another excuse for the Panthers to maintain the ball on the bottom as a lot as potential, although Pitt has a stable offensive line that provides up simply 17 sacks all yr and ranks third-lowest within the ACC.
Virginia’s run protection is nowhere close to nearly as good as her cross protection, giving up 149.2 yards per recreation, rating eleventh within the ACC. The battle when Pitt has the ball is gained or misplaced within the trenches. If the Cavaliers cannot cease the Panthers from racking up first downs on the bottom, they may very well be caught on the sphere for a very long time Saturday.
Virginia Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense
The lack of 4 offensive starters was apparently the recipe UVA wanted to place issues proper in opposition to UNC final Saturday as Virginia produced its finest offensive efficiency of the season. Granted, that got here in opposition to a tar heel workforce with a variety of defensive weaknesses. But the Cavaliers confirmed many encouraging indicators regardless of being with out Keytaon Thompson, Dontayvion Wicks, Lavel Davis Jr. and Perris Jones. Sean Wilson and Sackett Wood Jr. delivered stable reception recreation performances, as did Mike Hollins, Xavier Brown and Ronnie Walker Jr. within the floor recreation.
How totally different the personnel availability of the UVA can be this weekend remains to be unsure. From what Tony Elliott stated in his weekly press briefing, Keytaon Thompson seems to be the closest factor to a return, whereas Lavel Davis Jr. stays on concussion transcript. Dontayvion Wicks has the longest operating harm with a bruised bone however Elliott hopes Wicks can be again quickly. The full harm report might be discovered right here: Virginia Football Injury Report and Depth Chart – Pittsburgh
Sure, there’s an opportunity all three prime UVA receivers will make a comeback by Saturday, however that might be about as shocking as final Saturday when it was introduced at 11 a.m. that every one three had the UNC would miss the sport. And with Sean Wilson, Sackett Wood Jr. and Demick Starling taking part in properly in opposition to the Tar Heels, they actually deserve the chance to get extra taking part in time sooner or later.
Pittsburgh ranks No. 3 in operating protection within the ACC, permitting simply 109.4 speeding yards per recreation, whereas passing protection ranks No. 7 with 218.8 passing yards per recreation allowed. Senior linebacker SirVocea Dennis leads the Panthers protection with six sacks and 66 complete tackles. There’s an opportunity Dennis might make an actual distinction on this matchup because the UVA offensive line has dropped 26 sacks this season, tenth within the ACC.
Pitt has three defenders ranked within the prime ten for cross protection within the ACC. AJ Woods is third with 12 passes defended and one choose and MJ Devonshire is sixth with 9 passes defended. And then there’s Erick Hallett II, who you do not wish to throw close to as a result of he is presently 2nd within the ACC with three interceptions this season. Brennan Armstrong has had a choose drawback this yr, throwing 10 interceptions, probably the most of any ACC quarterback. It can be attention-grabbing to see how UVA’s receivers – whoever finally ends up taking part in – stack up in opposition to Pitt’s secondaries and if Armstrong can keep away from the expensive turnovers.
Pittsburgh has the fourth-best protection within the ACC by way of complete protection, however the Panthers are giving up 25.8 factors per recreation, rating tenth within the convention. Part of this discrepancy might be defined by Pitt’s struggles within the crimson zone. The Panthers have given up factors on 29 of their opponents’ 33 journeys to the crimson zone, together with 19 touchdowns. Virginia has struggled to complete drives in factors all season, and that is the principle purpose UVA’s respectable yardage counts did not carry over to the scoreboard. But the Cavaliers confirmed large enchancment on this space final day trip, scoring touchdowns on every of their 4 journeys to the crimson zone in opposition to UNC. The crimson zone can be a key issue when Virginia has the ball.
Virginia had a break offensively in opposition to North Carolina final week, however this Pitt protection is an entire lot higher than UNC’s. At this level, we’ll discover out if UVA’s offensive advances are actual, particularly within the crimson zone. If the Cavaliers can get a number of touchdowns on the board and drive the Panthers to throw the ball on offense, then they’ve an opportunity. But the extra doubtless state of affairs is Pitt benefiting from Virginia’s mediocre run protection. With Israel Abanikanda operating behind Pitt’s offensive line, the Panthers might take over the sport by dominating possession time. Either approach, I feel factors can be onerous to come back by on this recreation and Pitt will win in a defensive slugfest.
Result prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Virginia 20
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