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Pat Narduzzi Still Searching for Signature Pitt Victory

After beating Ohio State at home Saturday, James Franklin now has something Pat Narduzzi doesn’t.

A signature conference win.

Narduzzi does have a win over Franklin and Penn State earlier this year. And that stands as Narduzzi’s best victory of his still short era as Pitt coach. It’s been enough to buy a lot of good will from Pitt fans.

But one has to wonder, how long before Panther fans really start calling for something that Franklin’s Nittany Lions did Saturday night: upset a quality conference opponent.

And let’s face it, if Pitt is ever going to get the ACC championship that’s exactly what it will need to happen. Because it’ll be a while before Pitt enters a season as the favorite to get to the ACC title game. And that’s been Narduzzi’s stated goal … even beyond beating Penn State.

The Nittany Lions needed this. A bit of a malaise had fallen over that program in the weeks since that Pitt game. They were throttled by Michigan. And aside from that, there were three uninspiring and/or unimpressive victories against Temple, Maryland, and Minnesota. The only topic of conversation surrounding Penn State football during those weeks, was largely criticism from the rest of the country for its decision to honor Joe Paterno’s first year as coach.

But now, for PSU fans, this season can be defined by this win more than anything else. That’s assuming the Lions take care of business the rest of the way and win at least four of their five remaining Big Ten games, which they’ll be favored to do.

Contrary to what Pitt fans wanted, this result bolsters the Nittany Lion stance that the Pitt result/rivalry is secondary to what they accomplish in conference (or, more importantly, in division) against Michigan and Ohio State.

In two weeks, Pitt does have a chance to replicate what PSU just did. They can go to Clemson and upset the 4th ranked Tigers. Sound impossible? Maybe. But it’s no less difficult than what Penn State just pulled off against Ohio State, especially considering Urban Meyer’s road record.

At some point it has to happen for Narduzzi. Because you know he’s not going to go through his whole Pitt coaching career without being upset.

Narduzzi’s teams in his first two years have managed to avoid the toe-stubbing, season defining out of nowhere loss. Although, Miami last year wasn’t great. That’s something his predecessors haven’t been able to do. But that has been balanced out so far by as of yet not coming up with a win that the team wasn’t expecting to get going into the game.

This year, such a victory may be necessary to win the ACC Coastal. North Carolina will be favored to win each of its four remaining games (Georgia Tech, at Duke, Citadel, North Carolina State). So a win over Clemson would be necessary to keep pace, with additional help needed.

Aside from the raw wins/losses and placement in the standings, the less tangible angle of enthusiasm and energy around the program remains in play. Pitt’s win over Penn State is enough to give most Panther fans a warm fuzzy for most of this year. But the payoff may amount to nothing more than another mid-lower tier bowl.

Penn State’s victory over Ohio State may result in them being no worse than second place in the Big Ten East. It has also shifted attention so that its fans base that can actually focus on football again, instead of trying to figure out how much of it’s Sandusky/Paterno tainted past it should be allowed to celebrate.

Under Narduzzi so far for Pitt, things are going … OK. Fine. Pretty well. Eventually though, he’ll need to do what Franklin’s Lions did Saturday night to make things seem better than that.

And oh by the way, anyone see West Virginia is in the top 10?

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  1. Jeff R.

    October 24, 2016 at 9:44 am

    West Virginia? They still have that?

  2. Marco Ellington

    October 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    seriously… fire this moron.

    Why would we have to read such crap on a Pitt website? I imagine you could veto his stories??? Whatever contract you signed to have him write its time to Benz over and take it as a loss.

  3. Marvin Fillmore

    October 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    In terms of relative difficulty, Clemson is better than Ohio State, especially at the QB and D-line positions; and by the end of the season that result will play out. Ohio State’s best victory was over Oklahoma, a win that looks less and less impressive every week with the way the Big XII and Houston are playing. Clemson beat Louisville, a team that is a darkhorse for the playoff, and will likely finish in the top-5, regardless. Clemson also beat Auburn, a win that is looking more-and-more impressive every week. Add in the fact that the game is at Clemson, and it’s clear that Pitt’s position is more difficult, if that is the relative comparison you’re trying to make.

    And the notion that now the Penn State “fan base can actually focus on football again” is laughable. That’s the type of singular focus from which they continue to heap ridicule upon themselves since Sandusky/Paterno. But at least now James Franklin has given them something to “ease their suffering.”

    • gostate

      October 25, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      We Are

  4. Lu Bair

    October 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm


    • gostate

      October 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      That tells the story right there. When you have to beg to fill a stadium half the size of beaver stadium you are irrelevant.

      • Marco Ellington

        October 25, 2016 at 5:04 pm

        Hey! Mr. Benz created a username. Well, when you have 60,000 more undergrads, or about the capacity of Heinz Field… it is pretty easy to fill up pussy stadium. By the way, you guys never fill it up.

      • KingNattyDaddy

        October 25, 2016 at 9:36 pm

        Sorry ‘gostate,’ but we in Pittsburgh have many options. We can go to the Steelers games, Pirates games, Pens games, Pitt games, Concerts, Musical Productions, Museums, Science Centers, etc. In Happy Valley you can watch Penn State, …….. oh, I guess that’s about it??? I’m sure there are probably some pretty nice ‘barn parties’. You see, we in Pittsburgh we have lives not entirely centered on our college football team, a child molesting coach, and endlessly defending JoePa for permitting it to continue on and on and on……
        And by the way, how ‘relevant’ was PSU in Ann Arbor????? 49-10 was it???

  5. Habay

    October 24, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    I love this site, but anytime I see that the author of an article is Tim Benz, I immediately move on. He has never had any clue in regards to Pittsburgh sports and only tries to stir up nonsense. How he continues to get work is truly amazing, he’s terrible at what he does.

    • Marvin Fillmore

      October 24, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      The classic “Ron Cook” play.

    • KingNattyDaddy

      October 24, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Only an amateur sports writer could try to make a equal comparison between a win for Penn State over OSU in a HOME game in front of 100,000 of their OWN FANS and an attempt for Pitt to go on the ROAD to play Clemson in front of 81,000 of THEIR FANS in Death Valley. Hmmm, the results weren’t quite the same for Penn State in Ann Arbor against a ‘lower ranked’ opponent than OSU, were they?
      PSN, is Benz the best you can do? It’s kind of like watching T-Webb chase another receiver into the end zone, when I ask my friends if he is the best we can do? I know BOTH can do better.
      Benz, try to put a LITTLE thought into your articles before you put them out for us to read.

    • Joe Steigerwald

      October 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Still waiting for someone to actually rebut Tim’s point that Pitt needs a signature in-conference win.

      • Marco Ellington

        October 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

        Because, it is a simpleton writing a worthless story right after his team won luckily over ohio state. Where was this last week? It is just a moronic piece to incite Pitt fans plan and simpleton 🙂
        If I want to read childish stories like this, I can read the daily rags. I must of missed Benzovers piece on Narduzzi badly outcoaching Franklin when we were kicking their arses all over Heinz Field. Or his article on how horrible Penn State was after getting ran over by Michigan. No, the troll waits for the ONE win Franklin has had in his whole career against a good team, and uses it to question the best coach I ever seen at Pitt… and this is on a PITT SITE!

        Cut the tow line man, this guy is feeding his gullet on your dimes and slowing you down in his wake.

      • Mike Kanavich

        October 25, 2016 at 7:06 pm

        Joe, so if PSU runs the table and goes 11-2- with the losses being to Michigan and PITT- does the win on September 10th then become a signature win?

        Even if Pitt were 7-0 right now, they’d still be searching for that “signature” win.

        It’s like we’re penalizing HCPN for his win over PSU because PSU wasn’t ranked at the time.
        If 42-39 would’ve taken place in late November instead of early September, PN would then have his elusive signature win?

        As a fan of college football in PA, I’m happy for the PSU fan base being able to enjoy a win over a young, talented team like OSU. It’s nice to see HCJF get his signature win and finally get off of a warming seat.

        While I believe that Pitt has an offense that can shorten the game and give them a chance at victory in Death Valley, all isn’t lost if they come up short.

        In summary- especially if Pitt takes care of business Thursday night vs. VT- I’m content with the best win of the PN era (1.5 seasons) being over a good PSU team.

        • Joe Steigerwald

          October 26, 2016 at 8:47 am

          Penn State is a very good victory for Pitt just from recruiting standpoint, but it’s not a “signature” victory even if Penn State goes undefeated the rest of the way. You can’t retroactively make something a signature win. If Pitt wants to reach its stated goal of winning the ACC, they’re going to need to beat someone in-conference, VT would be a good start.

          Also, in the article, Tim makes it pretty clear he’s talking about an in-conference signature win.

          • Mike Kanavich

            October 26, 2016 at 5:47 pm

            If Benz is going to hammer Pitt for lack of an ACC signature win, then I expected he would’ve harped upon Pitt’s missed opportunity at Chapel Hill and next months opportunity in Death Valley (which- as already pointed out by KingNattyDaddy’s comment- will be considerably more difficult than beating OSU at home).

            While I agree beating VT on national TV certainly helps the Pursuit, I just don’t see how beating the #25 team at home is all that big of a deal. Since joining the ACC, Pitt is 3-1 vs. VT (and 6 wins in the last 7 tries going back to 2001).

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