Sons of Game Picks: Week 7 - Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Tech
Hokies are in for a challenge.
On paper, Pittsburgh will probably be the worst match-up for the Hokies the entire year. They are one of the highest-scoring teams in college football... and for a Hokies offense that is near the bottom in almost every statistical category, this is not what the doctor ordered after another gut-wrenching loss the week prior to Notre Dame.
Kenny Pickett, who is in his 9th or 10th year as the Pitt starting QB, has thrown for over 1700 yards, 19 TDs, with only 1 interception. Compare that to Braxton Burmeister, who may or may not be healthy, who has only 930 passing yards and 5 passing TDs, with 2 picks. This Pitt team is not a team that you want to get into a shootout with. And frankly, the Hokies are not capable of participating in a shootout anyways.
Per usual, the Hokies defense will have to show up and play a perfect game, which is easier said than done against a high-flying offensive team. The Hokies D let the Notre Dame Irish nearly double their average rush yards per carry last week from their prior games, so now is not the time for the Tech defense to have an off night.
However, even taking all that into account, this game essentially will crown the Coastal champion. Believe it or not, but if Tech wins this game they are in the driver's seat for the Coastal, with multiple teams now having to win multiple games more than Tech does to catch them. In a year of extreme Coastal chaos, anything is possible, but the winner of this Pitt v. Tech will make any challenger have to play out of their mind the rest of the season.
Here is how we see the game going:
Adam Rothe - Pitt - 35-17
Believe it or not, Pitt is probably the best offense that Tech will face this year. They have been putting up numbers and 15-year college veteran QB, Kenny Pickett, is having the best year of his career. Through five games he has thrown for over 1700 yards, with 19 TDs and only one interception. Those are Heisman-worthy numbers. Because of this Pitt has been blowing teams out. They beat Georgia Tech 52-21. University of New Hampshire 77-7, and UMass 51-7. They also beat an SEC foe in Tennessee... but also somehow lost to Western Michigan. This is not your regular Pat Narduzzi team that plays lights out on defense but struggles to score the ball. Make no mistake, this team can and will score against the Hokies. However, their defense is not as good as it usually is, which opens the door for opportunity for the Hokies... but the issue for Tech is the QB position.
Justin Fuente said Braxton Burmeister will be "good to go" on Saturday, which means nothing coming from a man who also said this year will be the best passing attack in his tenure, also known as the biggest lie of the year thus far. Burmeister could barely raise his throwing arm last weekend, which doesn't create optimism for a team that already struggles on offense. Like every game this year, Tech's defense, albeit not as dominant as the earlier games, will have opportunities to keep Tech in this game. The problem is Pitt can score too many points and Tech's offense is near the bottom of the ACC and one of the worst nationally. This game could be a blowout, but I'll keep it at an 18 point Pitt victory. Tech falls to 3-3 and serious questions need to be asked of this coaching staff and if they have the ability to finish out the season in the right way.
Evan Norris - Pitt - 41-24
Not sure if there is anything optimistic to say about this matchup. This, on paper, is Virginia Tech's most lopsided matchup this season. The Pittsburgh Panthers are averaging 52.4 points per game this season against some solid teams. Granted they have had some stat-booster games like New Hampshire, UMass, and Western Michigan (which they actually lost). However, I don't see this trend magically stopping this week. Pat Narduzzi has always had his teams ready to compete after a bye week and perform historically well in those matchups. In fact, the last true bye week that Pittsburgh lost was in 2017 to UNC (31-34). And with an offense that may be even more questionably down than they were last week against Notre Dame, I can't see the Hokies winning. Sure, the defense can hold down the Panthers a bit, but it isn't unlike Pittsburgh to beat down on Virginia Tech. I think the Hokies can hang for the first quarter or two, then it'll be a sore sight.
Grant Mitchell - Pitt - 34-20
I don't know what to say anymore. Go Hokies.
Justin Cates - Pitt - 38-23
I’ve never been a big believer in Kenny Pickett. Up until this season, he’s always made about as many mistakes as he created positives but that has all changed as a 14th-year senior. That’s how long it seems like he’s been there at least. Pickett has taken several leaps above his past play and given Tech’s inability to stop some pretty inconsistent QBs in losses this year, that doesn’t bode well. Meanwhile, the Hokies have an ailing — though reportedly spry — Braxton Burmeister, an inability to run the ball, and a defense missing Dax Hollifield for the first half. The Panthers are going to win despite their replacement level head coach and everyone’s least favorite gym teacher Pat Narduzzi.
Konnor Kilgore - Pitt - 42-27
The hope of winning games for the rest of the season for Tech is that the defense is pretty much perfect the whole game and that the offense does just enough to eke out a win. Against Pitt, the defense will have its toughest test of the season. The Panther's lowest scoring output this season has been 41 points. Tech's highest-scoring game has been 35 points. That just doesn't give me a lot of confidence looking at this game. I believe Pitt's defense is leaky and can be scored on some, but it won't be enough.