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Vukovcan: We’ll Learn Plenty About Pitt Today



Pitt has no chance today.

That’s what everyone has been saying since their deflating 38-35 loss to North Carolina.

In all honesty, they’ve shown nothing this year to give anyone hope that they can even stay competitive against unbeaten #13 Central Florida.

Central Florida has won sixteen consecutive games, the nation’s longest winning streak.

They’ve scored 30+ points in sixteen straight games, which is also the longest streak in the country. The Knights are averaging 50 points and nearly 588 yards of total offense. Those numbers would give any opponent nightmares, let alone a team like Pitt that is struggling defensively.

Even the most loyal Panther fan would have a hard time justifying predicting Pitt to win today.

Am I sticking with my preseason prediction of Pitt winning today in Orlando?

I’m going to start by saying that I would be stunned if Pitt doesn’t come out and play their best game of the season.

Regardless of what their talent level may or may not be, the Pitt players and coaches have pride and these past six days couldn’t have been fun or easy to deal with.

All week they’ve been reading and hearing how bad they are, how the season is over, how the team doesn’t have any talent, how they might not win another game the rest of the season and that Pat Narduzzi should be fired.

That must have been an enjoyable week, huh?

Frankly, if you’re a competitor and have pride all that talk really has to piss you off.

Hey, you can call me a homer or a fan but I honestly believe this 2018 Pitt team is better than what we’ve seen so far and we’re going to see that talent today.

I’m not completely delusional and can admit that Central Florida is good but let’s hold off on the talk that they’re a great team.

If they would be putting up these statistics and win streaks in the SEC, Big Ten or ACC that would be one thing but they’re not. The reality is they play in the AAC which is a far cry from a Power Five conference.

While Pitt has played teams like Penn State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina, Central Florida has beaten up on UConn, South Carolina State and Florida Atlantic.

In their “National Championship” season last year, Central Florida’s biggest opponents during the season were Maryland, Memphis and Cincinnati.

With all due respect, that isn’t exactly “Murder’s Row.”

I’m not saying that Central Florida isn’t good, just that I’m not considering them a great or unbeatable team.

Can Central Florida go out today and blow the doors off Pitt and beat them by 30 points? Of course that could happen, but I don’t think it will.

Pitt will be the most talented team that Central Florida has played and will play this season.

For Pitt to win, three things have to happen: 1) They need to be physical on offense and control time of possession. 2) They have to be efficient on 3rd down both offensively and defensively. 3) They need to score touchdowns and not settle for field goals.

If Pitt tries to match big plays and get into a shootout with Central Florida, they’re going to lose. A touchdown drive of 12 plays that takes up five or six minutes would be a lot better than scoring a 80-yard touchdown.

Pitt needs to shorten the game and the fewer times the Knights have the ball the better.

The Panthers go into the game as 13 point underdogs and today will no doubt be a challenge.

However, one thing we’ve seen since the hiring of Narduzzi is that his team is good for at least one “upset” a season. We all know about Penn State, Clemson and Miami.

Will they be adding Central Florida to that list of upset victims?

I’m out of the prediction business but I’ll just say that if we don’t see Pitt’s best game of the season I’ll be surprised—and highly disappointed.

Pitt is better than what we’ve witnessed and they’ll show that today.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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