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Predicting a close call for Pitt today in must-win situation: Panthers 30 Cavaliers 27

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How important is Saturday’s Virginia game for Pitt?
Look at the upcoming schedule. After an off weekend, Pitt will visit Virginia Tech on Oct. 12, and the Hokies’ defense is clearly one of the best in the nation. Nice test for the newly energized Pitt offense. Coach Frank Beamer knows what went wrong last year when his team lost to Pitt, and will fix it. Plus, Logan Thomas will be a better quarterback than he was at Heinz Field last year.
Tough game, especially in Blacksburg.
Later, Pitt must play at Georgia Tech, at home against Notre Dame and North Carolina, Syracuse at the Carrier Dome and Miami at Heinz Field in a five-game gauntlet that will be difficult to navigate.
So, when schools such as Virginia appear on the schedule, it becomes just short of a must-win situation.
Looking at the matchups, Virginia’s defense will be a formidable test for Pitt’s offensive line that has played well so far this season. If Pitt can’t handle Virginia quarterback David Watford, who has thrown six interceptions in three games, the concern for the defense will morph into full-blown hand-wringing. It’s not like there’s help on the waiver wire. Only better recruiting will solve the problem for the future, but that does no good today.
That being said, I’ll take the underdog Cavaliers to cover the 5 1/2-point spread, but Pitt will win the game.
Call it: 30-27.
Which still will call for significant improvement on defense, but that’s a crisis for another day.
As expected, senior middle linebacker Shane Gordon (ribs) won’t play and will be replaced by yet another freshman, Matt Galambos. Also junior defensive end Bryan Murphy (ankle) is out, giving the start to sophomore Ejuan Price and shoving freshman (that word again) Shakir Soto up the depth chart.
And stay healthy center Artie Rowell. Your backup Gabe Roberts is out with a shoulder injury.

 

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