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Sons of Saturday Game Picks: Hokies Travel to Pittsburgh to Take on the Panthers

By Mike McDaniel | November 21
Hooker cardiac hill
Courtesy: Cardiac Hill

Virginia Tech, losers of three out of four, travel on the road to Heinz Field to take on the 4-4 Pittsburgh Panthers. The Panthers pose a stout rushing defense and could give the Hokies some trouble offensively on Saturday, but there is a path to victory for the Hokies through the air. Will the Tech offense be opened up enough to secure a road win?

It's much needed. Let's get into our picks.

Mike McDaniel

Virginia Tech 24 Pittsburgh 17

This game comes down to one simple element: Will Brad Cornelsen allow Hendon Hooker to win this football game with his arm?

Pittsburgh has the best rushing defense in the ACC, so regardless of whether or not Khalil Herbert is a full-go, it'll likely be tough sledding for the Tech rushing attack. Pittsburgh does not have a very good passing defense, despite what some of the experts may think. If Hooker is allowed to throw the ball down the field in this game, there will be plenty of opportunities to put up some points.

As for Pittsburgh's offense? It's terrible.

They're mediocre through the air and one of the worst units in the country on the ground. Overall, they're 108th nationally in yards per play, so if Virginia Tech's defense plays a similar game to last week, or even like it did against Wake Forest, the Hokies should limit Pittsburgh's opportunities to score. Tech has more avenues to victory, and that's why they're the pick here.

Adam Rothe

Pittsburgh 21 Virginia Tech 17

This Hokie coaching staff has still yet to prove they make the right decisions to win close games and this one will be no different. Low scoring affair due to Pitt's defense and Fuente and Corn's inability to make the right situational decisions. Pitt gets this one.

Justin Cates

Virginia Tech 24 Pittsburgh 21

Primanti Brothers sandwiches are vastly overrated. I've thought this since experiencing it firsthand at the location near Pitt's campus years ago. Their idea of cole slaw is just wet vinegar cabbage and I will never forgive it. As for the game, I think it will be an ugly, defensive struggle which of course means take the over. Justin Fuente is 3-1 against the Panthers and if Tech can repeat last week's defensive effort I think he'll make it 4-1 in yet another close game.

Robert Irby

Pittsburgh 24 Virginia Tech 16

This game will come down to which team is able to dictate the fashion in which it is played. If the Hokies can make Pickett uncomfortable while establishing a running game, they should win. However, I just don't think I see that happening. Asserting dominance is something the Hokies have rarely done this season, so I imagine Pitt will dictate the flow of this game by turning it into a battle of QBs. Say what you want about Pickett, but at least he is used to throwing at a high volume. Pitt's stellar run defense will force Hendon Hooker to try and win the game with his arm, which he will fail to do.

Pat Rouleau

Pittsburgh 24 Virginia Tech 20

I really like the alternating picks we have going on. Some of the earlier picks have alluded to this but this has the makings of a sloppy, low-scoring game that may very well come down to who has the ball last. In this case, I think Pitt will be that team. On a brighter note, hope everyone is doing well and has a terrific Thanksgiving!

Konnor Kilgore

Virginia Tech 31 Pittsburgh 20

This is a tough game to predict. I think Pitt QB Kenny Pickett is the most overrated QB in the ACC, with most of his stats being the result of sheer volume of pass attempts instead of him actually being any good. However, Pitt has no run game to lean on as they have in years past, making this a relatively favorable matchup for the Hokie defense. On offense for Tech, it will be tough sledding against a stout Pitt run D. Hendon Hooker will need to connect with Tre Turner or James Mitchell a few times down the field to keep Pitt from keying on the run the whole game. Heinz Field seems to bring out the worst in Tech, and I would expect an ugly, rock fight sort of game. Ultimately, though, Tech will make just enough plays to pull this one out, as long as Cornelsen doesn't call for any more 3rd and 7 QB power plays.

Preston Huennekens

Pittsburgh 30 Virginia Tech 28

I look at this game as a real toss-up. Pitt is not great. Then again, neither are the Hokies. There are factors that would normally lead me to go with Virginia Tech in this game - Pitt's COVID-19 issues specifically stand out in this regard. But I have not seen anything from the Hokies in the past two games that lead me to believe they are turning some sort of corner. Virginia Tech continues its free-fall in a close loss at Heinz Field.

Chris Himes

Virginia Tech 24 Pittsburgh 17

Pittsburgh has been experiencing significant COVID issues that last few weeks, which basically nullifies their bye week advantage that came as a result of cancelling the previous GT game, and if there is one coach I trust the LEAST to properly manage their roster, players, and game planning responsibilities, its Pat Narduzzi. VT bounces back following a herculean defensive effort last week and the offense does enough to cover.

Grant Mitchell

Virginia Tech 21 Pittsburgh 13

This matchup presents an interesting dynamic for both teams. Pitt has dropped four of their last five, including a 3-45 blowout against Notre Dame two weekends ago, but managed to regain some form by defeating Florida State 45-17 last Saturday. Tech, on the other hand, is fresh off of a heartbreaking loss to then #9 Miami in which they dominated the first three and a half quarters before failing in the clutch, losing 25-26. I expect both coaches to tread lightly and stick to the core of their playbooks, leaving the players who provide the most energy the opportunity to win their team the game. For me, this team will be Virginia Tech. Be on the lookout for Tre Turner and Dax Hollifield.

Ryan Hartman

Virginia Tech 35 Pittsburgh 14

I believe in the attitude of this team and I do not have much to back me up on that but it feels like a pick me up game for the Hokies this week. Holston is ready to play with an attitude so I can see him going over triple digits on the ground. Prove me right Hokies.

Mike Mcd

As a first generation Hokie, I can't say that Virginia Tech has always been in my blood, but I can say unequivocally that I bleed maroon and orange now. I graduated from the Pamplin College of Business in 2015 with a double major in accounting and finance, and have parlayed that into a five-year career in government compliance consulting in the Washington D.C. metro area where I grew up. At Tech, I enjoyed going to as many sporting events as I could, playing four years for the Club Golf team, and realizing my passion for writing and creating content.

I have previously written for Gobbler Country on the SB Nation network, Fighting Gobbler for Fansided,, The Tech Lunch Pail, and most recently for Sports Illustrated's All Hokies, where I was the lead publisher.

In addition to writing, I am also co-host of Basketball Conference: The ACC Football Podcast and the Hokie Hangover Podcast covering Virginia Tech athletics.

I'm passionate about Virginia Tech, but also hope to bring an objective and journalistic background to enhance the already fantastic athletic coverage here at Sons of Saturday.

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