This one was about as relaxing as it gets in 2016 for Pitt football, and I hope you enjoyed that one because the Syracuse game will probably be far more stressful.
For a season that has had seemingly every game go down to the wire, it was a joy to watch a blowout. The offense remains incredible. The defense stepped up.
It was as good as it gets, and hopefully a preview of things to come.
Before I break things down, I want to touch on some random thoughts here.
First off, I don’t understand what purpose polls serve anymore. Pitt isn’t ranked, and that’s fine. They’re behind North Carolina and Virginia Tech, among a few others. Pitt lost to those teams, so it makes sense.
But then look at some of the others… Pitt is behind a 6-4 LSU team (now ranked No. 25) with absolutely zero impactful wins this season. Their best win to date is against then No. 25-ranked Arkansas, who now sits below Pitt in the rankings.
Meanwhile, 7-4 Pitt has played the 14th toughest strength of schedule in the country and can claim wins over two top-10 teams in Penn State and Clemson.
Where are the Panthers in the polls? Tied with South Florida receiving 24 votes.
Why do we do polls? If you have a satisfying answer to that, I’d love to read it in the comments section.
Pitt seems to never get the credit it deserves even when things are going well. Right now is a perfect example of it. I think if the Panthers can beat Syracuse and finish the regular season 8-4, they are deserving of being nationally ranked.
I don’t thing they’ll get that respect, though. It’s a shame.
This game was “typical Pitt,” and no I don’t mean the “typical Pitt” that blows games and makes you shake your head every weekend. I mean the “typical Pitt” that blows opponents off the field every week with its offense.
The running game is special. James Conner went over 100 and set an ACC record. Nate Peterman needed only 11 completions to amass 237 yards passing and three touchdowns. The offensive line continues to be dominant.
What else is there to say? Pitt scored two touchdowns each quarter and saw just four of its offensive drives end in something other than a touchdown.
Pay Matt Canada all of the money this offseason, please.
This was a game I thought Pitt’s defense had a chance to look much better than in previous weeks. I wrote as much in my preview blog last week, as the Duke offense appeared to have far less top-level talent at quarterback and wide receiver.
That ended up being true, as the Blue Devils’ offense mustered up just one touchdown on the day.
The pass rush was there. They forced a turnover. They held Duke to just 268 yards of total offense.
That’s a huge improvement, and it was nice to see. Hopefully this is a big confidence boost for the defensive side of the ball. Syracuse will pose a big threat in the passing game in the final game of the regular season. This game was a point of confidence for that group.
What else needs to be said?
He took a punt back for a touchdown, and he has cemented himself as the most dangerous return man in college football. What an incredible weapon for Pitt.
This Pitt season could finish even better than some might have hoped. With a clearly more difficult schedule than in 2015, Pitt has a chance against Syracuse to get to eight wins. Eight wins in 2016 would be MUCH more impressive than the eight wins they accrued in 2015.
Then there’s a bowl game on the horizon, too. Perhaps Pitt wins nine?
On Saturday, Pitt showed it can play a complete game. The Panthers will need that again this week. That Dino Babers offense is good, and one of the best ways to combat it is to try and outscore it.
We’ll see whether or not Pitt can do that on Saturday. The Duke win certainly inspired a little more confidence.