Previewing 2020 Football: Vs. Pittsburgh
Sports, Football

Previewing 2020 Football: Vs. Pittsburgh

Both Boston College and Pittsburgh are coming off their first losses of the season, each by less than a score. Both teams suffered defeat at the hands of top teams in the ACC, so they’re no doubt looking for revenge. Pitt (3-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast), which lost a heartbreaker by one point to NC State, spent the last three weeks of its season ranked in the AP Poll before falling out with last week’s loss. The Panthers will have to put on a defensive show if they want to take down BC (2-1, 1-1) at home. 

Who is BC playing?

Pittsburgh

When is BC playing?

Saturday, Oct. 10, 4 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to Watch:

The game will be broadcast nationally on ACC Network and the ESPN app.

How to Listen:

Audio coverage of the game will be streamed via BCEagles.com.

Series History:

BC and Pitt, two teams from different divisions of the ACC, will meet for the second-straight year this weekend. The matchup is a result of scheduling changes due to COVID-19, and the teams have only met twice as ACC foes. Before joining the ACC, the first game between the two took place back in 1959. They then met regularly from 1970 to 2004 as independent schools and later as part of the Big East. Pitt leads the all-time series 17-14, but BC took the win last season, 26-19, in a game that made the Eagles bowl eligible. In the ACC, the series is split 1-1, and BC has not won at home against Pitt since a 45-7 victory back in 2001.

This year, BC football has multiple connections to the Pittsburgh area. Head coach Jeff Hafley was on Pitt’s coaching staff from 2006 to 2010, serving as defensive assistant and the defensive backs coach. Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. held the same position at Pitt from 2009 to2010. Starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec grew up in the Pittsburgh area, becoming the second quarterback in Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards. Jurkovec’s first official college offer came from Pitt on Oct. 1, 2015.

What to Expect from Pitt:

Offense:

The Panthers’ passing game has been a bright spot for Pitt all season. Quarterback Kenny Pickett has played well all year, ranking third nationally with 1,123 passing yards for six touchdown passes and four rushing touchdowns. In the Panthers’ most recent loss, he had a one-yard touchdown run to put the team up 29-24 with 1:44 remaining against NC State. Maryland transfer DJ Turner, who started the year third on the depth chart, has been the team’s top receiver with 17 catches and a team-high 319 yards, and was named the ACC Co-Receiver of the Week last week.

The Panthers’ run game has been solid all season as well, but it lacks a lot of firepower. This past weekend against NC State, Pickett had 15 carries for 40 yards, as did starting running back Vincent Davis. On the season, Davis has 196 yards on 57 carries, for an average of 3.4 yards per carry. The Pitt run game has averaged 130.5 yards, showing their pro-style offensive balance between the pass and run game. Overall, Pitt is currently ranked No. 32 in total offense with 419.3 yards while scoring 32 points per game—No. 31 in the nation in that category.

Defense:

Although on paper Pitt boasts a top-20 defense in almost all statistics—including second in total defense with 232.3 yards—the team seems to have some cause for concern. While the Panthers started the season shutting out Austin Peay 55-0, every week since then has been much closer than expected. They allowed just 137 yards to Austin Peay, and that number increased steadily until they gave up 398 total yards to NC State. The Wolfpack had a less-than-perfect QB in Devin Leary, yet he went 28-for-44 for 336 yards and four touchdowns in that matchup.

If Pitt gave up that yardage to a QB who had not won a single start of his in 2019, then it will be in for a challenge against a pass-reliant BC team led by Jurkovec. Pitt’s secondary will have its work cut out for it, especially with Jurkovec averaging 274.3 yards per game, while the run game is only averaging 70.3 yards per game.

Outlook:

With both teams coming off excruciatingly close losses, both will be determined to earn the win this week. One thing that’s been clear is that Hafley’s team is coached well, hanging on with ranked UNC and almost pulling off a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime. Even so, Pitt is the favorite by a 5.5-point spread, but based on these teams’ most recent performances, it’s possible the game could be closer than that.

Featured Image by Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

October 8, 2020
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