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Pitt Vs. Upside-Down Vermont

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

So how does this weekend's matchup shape up for Pitt?  Well, put it this way - New Hampshire is actually one of the better I-AA FCS schools out there.  They laid a 30-point beatdown on fellow FCS school Central Connecticut State this past weekend.  For their efforts, they were rewarded by moving up five spots in the coaches poll to #5 in the country.

Four of the Big East's schools have scheduled FCS foes this weekend and's Brian Bennett says Pitt will have the stiffest challenge.

And New Hampshire knows all about not only playing I-A teams, but beating them:
Dating back to 2004, the Wildcats have won FBS games at Rutgers in front of 31,000 people, at Northwestern in front of 20,000, at Marshall in front of 27,000, at Army's historic Michie Stadium in front of the Corps of Cadets, and last year in front of 12,000 under the lights at Ball State's Scheumann Stadium. But this is the first NFL stadium they've visited since 1999, when they lost 42-41 in OT to South Florida at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
 So what makes New Hampshire so good?

It all starts with the running game.  Dontra Peters rushed for nearly 200 yards, two touchdowns, and averaged more than 10 yards per carry in the opener.  Part of that is that the team runs the 'oh-so-fun' triple option.  The good news for Pitt is that they stop the run a lot better than the pass.

Pitt sophomore running back Dion Lewis knows what to expect from New Hampshire's defense at Heinz Field.

"Eight in the box," he said. "Nine in the box."
Welcome to stardom, Dion.

This weekend won't be the one in which to judge Lewis. I fully expect him to get off in this game, even if New Hampshire puts 11 in the box. The better week to judge if he's fully recovered from that Utah debacle is against Miami when he'll face another good defense. One thing we've all likely been a little spoiled by was the 150-yard performances he regularly put up last year.  To expect that on a routine basis this season is foolish.  Pitt is starting a new quarterback and defenses know that the passing game will struggle at times. Everyone is focused on stopping Lewis.

But back to stopping the pass, injured safety Dom DeCicco is making progress, but Dave Wannstedt is pretty tight-lipped about his condition:
DeCicco is now officially listed as day-to-day but when asked him today Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said simply "he's doing fine" and then added "I'm not going to get into day-to-day injury things. He is doing fine. He is doing better, I should say."
This sounds like Greg Romeus part deux.  And about Romeus - don't forget he's still just now getting into game shape with all the time he missed in camp.

And on somewhat of a minor note, this was one thing that caught my eye about New Hampshire's game last weekend:
UNH missed two extra-point attempts (one blocked) and a chip-shot field goal.
Pitt loves getting after punts and kicks so look for the special teams to be aggressive.

Bottom line is that Pitt needs to, and should, win this game.  If they don't, look out.