I’ve attended and covered a lot of Pitt football games over the past twenty-plus years.
For the great, GREAT majority of them, they’ve just been another game to attend or cover as a member of the media and didn’t have any buzz or excitement to them.
That certainly isn’t the case today against Clemson.
The coverage and buildup to this afternoon’s game is as much as I can remember probably since Dave Wannstedt’s first game as head coach when Pitt took on Notre Dame.
It’s a fun feeling to have and frankly the way it should feel on a yearly basis if your program is relevant in college football.
This is everything that Pat Narduzzi and Heather Lyke should want for this Pitt football program. Heinz Field will have a big crowd, filled with recruits, the game is televised on national television, Pitt is ranked and is in good position to play in the ACC Title Game, as a bonus, the team’s best player is being talked about as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
There’s one more thing that needs to happen to make this day complete: a Pitt win.
Despite what some might say, this is a big moment for Pitt football. A loss won’t eliminate them from the Coastal Division race but a loss would end the buzz and positive vibe surrounding the program. Fans would immediately start with the talk that this program is unable of winning a big game and taking the leap and next step as a program as a championship contender.
Whether they’re right or wrong that’s the reality of the situation for Pitt.
Despite their record, Clemson is still Clemson and their roster is filled with 4- and 5-star players and this could be the day they put it all together and live up to their potential. Dabo Swinney is one of the best coaches in the country and regardless of the struggles they’re having on offense, they have one of the best defenses in the country.
With all that being said, this is a game that Pitt can and frankly should win.
This game is at Heinz Field, Pitt will have the best player on the field, Clemson’s two deep depth chart is filled with injuries, the Panthers have one of the best offenses in the entire country and they finally have championship aspirations.
The question is can this 2021 Pitt team be the one that finally seizes the moment and keep the momentum and potential special season alive.
The only way that I see Clemson having a chance to win today is if Pitt’s offense helps them out with turnovers and gives the Clemson offense great field position. I just don’t see them, as currently built, driving 70-80+ yards on this Pitt defense.
I trust Kenny Pickett won’t allow that to happen and while they likely won’t put up 40+ points, they will move the ball and score enough points to win. It says here that Pitt wins today 28-17.
It should be a fun day over at Heinz Field, let’s see what happens.