This one feels a lot more manageable now, right?
Fact is, even if Pitt dropped to 0-3, this was always the one 'gimme' on the schedule. Well, okay - nothing is a gimme as we saw with Youngstown State, but the fact is that Gardner-Webb ain't Youngstown State. Pitt didn't look very good through their first two games of the season, but the Panthers should have little trouble with the Runnin'
Rebels Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb.
None of that is to demean the school, obviously, it's just that Pitt just shouldn't have much trouble in this game. So how's Gardner-Webb looked so far this year?
Not all that well.
The Runnin' Bulldogs are 0-3 on the season having been soundly defeated by Richmond, Wofford, and Samford. They've lost by at least 20 points to all three opponents and have scored only 38 points while giving up 119.
If you're looking for players to watch out for based on statistics, there's not much from what I've seen. Gardner-Webb does have a couple of receivers who have topped 100 yards in games this season, though - Deonte Swinton and Carlton Heard. On defense, watch out for linebacker Brian Wittenberger, who apparently gets all over the field. Through only three games, he already has a sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery.
There's also an area where Pitt should have a pretty big advantage.
Gardner-Webb's biggest problem might be stopping Pitt's strong running game. The Runnin' Bulldogs have given up 229 yards a game on the ground to their three opponents, including a whopping 400+ to Wofford ... yeah, that Wofford. Ray Graham and Rushel Shell should really have a good day in the backfield.
I'm not going to go all Joe Paterno or Dave Wannstedt, though, and predict how Pitt might have a tough time with this opponent. Sure, if every single player overlooks them, there could be trouble. But Gardner-Webb isn't just an FCS program - they're a pretty bad one. And I have a really hard time believing the Panthers are overlooking anybody after that Youngstown State loss. If they are, shame on them. But at first glance, this looks like it should be a win for Pitt.