Pitt is looking to shake off the worst performance of the Pat Narduzzi era, and it won’t be easy as No. 4 Florida State comes to town Saturday afternoon.
The unbeaten Seminoles are led by a Heisman candidate and a defense that is limiting opposing quarterbacks at all levels, and it will be perhaps the toughest test of the season for the Panthers.
“And then we’ve got probably the best team we’re going to play of the year,” Narduzzi said Monday at his weekly news conference. “I think they’re ranked fourth in the country. On my USA Today coaches poll, I’ve had them at No. 2 for a long time. And I watched them earlier in the year. I’ve had a chance to peek at them.
“And, you know, Jordan Travis — Mike Norvell has done an outstanding job there in his time there. And he’s an excellent coach. He’s also the offensive coordinator. I think Jordan Travis is playing about as high level as any quarterback in the country. We’ve got a great football team (to play) and that’s kind of where our focus is going, right to them.”
Saturday at 3:30 PM on @ESPN 📺
Pitt returns to @AcrisureStadium 🏟️
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 3, 2023
The attempt to knock off the ‘Noles will come with some classic uniforms — wearing its gold, blue, gold combination. The uniform combo will include gold helmets that feature the blue Cathedral stripe, blue jerseys with gold numbers and straight gold pants.
Florida State opened as a three-touchdown favorite, and the line hasn’t changed much — if at all — since being released earlier this week, in what is expected to be a low-scoring matchup — at least when it comes to Pitt.
Pitt and Syracuse are scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. at Acrisure Stadium Saturday afternoon, and for those who cannot make it down, it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN — with a former Panther on the call.
Florida State is coming off a 41-16 win against Wake Forest, the same Demon Deacons squad that knocked Pitt off 21-17 two weeks ago, for reference, and the Seminoles appeared at No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff Poll of the 2023 season Tuesday.
The Seminoles have been nearly impossible to stop this season, leading the ACC in scoring offense on the back of star quarterback Jordan Travis — completing 164-of-207 pass attempts (79.2%) for 2,109 yards with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions and adding 57 carries for 205 yards and six more scores.
Florida State is 8-0, on pace to qualify for the Playoff, and it’s been fueled by a high-flying offense (41.5 points per game) that features elite playmakers in wide receivers Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson and running back Trey Benson.
But a stifling defense (18.3 points per game) features one of the most impactful edge rushers in college football in the form of Jared Verse.
Pitt has only faced off against FSU 10 times over the course of its history, losing an inaugural meeting 31-13 in Tallahassee, Fla. back in 1971. The Seminoles took the first two mashups (1971 and 1972), Pitt took the next two (1974 and 1978).
But after a handful of meetings in the 1980s, three of four going in favor of Pitt, there have only been two meetings since.
Pitt lost a renewal of the series in 2013 in Pittsburgh, and after another break — just seven years this time — Pitt rebounded to take the most recent meeting in 2020.
And funnily enough, Travis was one of three Seminoles to throw interceptions as Kenny Pickett led the Panthers to a 41-17 win at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. It will be much, much tougher facing Travis this time around.
Television — ESPN
Mark Jones (play-by-play)
Louis Riddick (analyst)
Quint Kessenich (reporter)
Radio — 93.7 The Fan, Pitt Panthers Radio Network
Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play)
Pat Bostick (analyst)
Larry Richert and Dorin Dickerson (reporters)
SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Channel 380 or on the SiriusXM app
WPTS Radio (Pitt Student Station) — 92.1 FM