2020 Game #5 Pitt Panthers
HERE COME THE IRISH
Who are those fellas adorned in white uniforms at Heinz Field this Saturday afternoon? Well, they are, of course, the Fighting Irish. But one thing is certain, they will not be singing Willie Nelson’s hit “On the Road Again”. No sirree, this is the first ND road game this season so that song just does not fit.
But CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION! As the first road game, how will the Irish travel? That remains to be seen. But let’s see what the Irish will be up against.
The Pitt Panthers are 3-3, but just 2 points in games against North Carolina State and Boston College would make them 5-1. And with the top-rated rush defense in the country, nothing is guaranteed. The Panthers have held their opponents to an average of 61.5 rushing yards per game and only 1.9 yards per rushing attempt. The Irish, of course, have a formidable ground game so it will be strength v. strength. Don’t be concerned about a lot of “stuffed’ runs. Do be concerned if Book does not find his receivers.
Here’s hoping the Irish receivers will be like the Prodigal Son enabling Coach Kelly (or Coach Rees or QB Book or all of them) to say “My receivers were lost, but now have been found”.
Our friends at Game Day today characterized the #3 ranked Irish as a “place holder for the Buckeyes”. I tend to agree as I view the Power 5 as Clemson, Alabama, The Ohio State University and “all the rest”.
It seems to me that “all the rest” will be jockeying for the 4th spot in the College Football Championship field and the Irish have as good a chance as any of the “all the rest” to be that 4th. Just need to keep winning. While the talent level at the top 3 is better and deeper than the talent level at “all the rest”, the Irish talent level is better and deeper than in the recent losses to Clemson and The Ohio State University.
Would an Irish win over the top 3 be an upset? Well in any game that the opponent is favored with the underdog winning, it will be an upset. Which brings us back to the Pitt Panthers. Since Head Coach Pat Narduzzi left the Defensive Coordinator position at Michigan State to become the Panther Top Dog, Pitt has been something of a “thorn in the side” for highly ranked teams.
What are these? #15, #13, #5, #2, #5 and #3. In 2019 Pitt upset #15 UCF and nearly upset #13 Penn State. In 2018, Pitt nearly upset the #5 Irish (final was an Irish win 19-14). In 2017, Pitt upset #2 Miami. In 2016, Pitt upset #5 Penn State and (drum roll please) then #3 and eventual National Champion Clemson 43-42!
So, it bears repeating CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION!
The status of Pitt QB Kenny Pickett (#8) is uncertain due to an ankle injury. He missed last week’s loss to Miami. His replacement is Arizona State transfer Joey Yellen (#16) who has been characterized as “immobile”, something the Louisville QB certainly was not.
When Pitt has the ball, the Irish need to be aware of true Freshman Jordan Addison. Wearing #3, this wide receiver has 33 receptions and the Irish need to limit his receptions to his uniform number (but just not having those 3 being TD receptions).
The Pitt rushing defense statistics have already been reported and the overall Pitt strength is the defense. Not necessarily surprising with Narduzzi as the head coach. The Pitt D ends are Patrick Jones (#91) and Rashad Weaver (#17) who already have 11.5 sacks between them. And when they come out, there are capable backups. Perhaps that is further evidence why the Pitt defense leads the nation with 29 sacks!!!!
The Irish are favored by 10 with an over/under of 42.5. Last week I suggested taking the “over” on an over/under of 62.5. Hey, I only missed it by 43.5, just one more than this week’s over/under of 42.5. So, no suggestions from me this week.
The University of Pittsburgh was originally named the Western University of Pennsylvania. The name was changed in 1906 by act of the Pennsylvania State Legislature. About the same time the school mascot became the panther. Prior to that name change and mascot adoption the school athletic teams were known, affectionately or not, as the “Wups”. Which easily lead to this post-game commentary by successful opponents, “We Wupped the Wups”.
It is time to predict. There is NO Tony Dorsett carrying the ball! There is NO Larry Fitzgerald catching the ball! There is NO Mark May leading the way! There is NO Dan Marino flinging the “orb” (still like that word). There is NO Aaron Donald anchoring the Defense! There is NO way the Irish lose and “We Wup the Wups”.
In the terrible pandemic that we face, none of us will be able to attend a 2020 game at ND. And, many of you have less opportunities than others to get back. So, enjoy the follow:
EVEN IF WE WERE THERE, THIS WOULD NOT BE THERE. 2021? LET’S PRAY THIS RETURNS.
“. . . And Our Hearts Forever. . . “