So far this year, all of our writers have picked Pitt to win each game. This week, though, not everyone agrees. For that reason, I figured we'd do another Point/Counterpoint. Below are three reasons I expect Pitt to win but later today, Jim will explain why the Hawkeyes will come out on top.
1. James Conner, James Conner, James Conner: Realistically, this could be all three of my answers and the argument would be pretty sound. Conner is some kind of player and he hasn't had any real challenge from opposing defenses. He has had some fumbling issues, but overall, it's really hard to argue with 180 yards per game. My guess is that Conner doesn't go off against Iowa's tough run defense (which, by the way, could be overrated a bit due to the team's competition), but I still like him to show up. Simply put, he's too good to be shut down entirely.
2. Iowa ... just hasn't looked impressive: The Hawkeyes have played a similar schedule to Pitt so far. Each team has faced an FCS opponent, a weak FBS opponent, and a major-conference team. But while the level of competition has been relatively similar, the Panthers have just looked far better than Iowa.
While Pitt throttled their FCS foe, winning 62-0 over Delaware, Iowa looked less impressive, winning by eight over Northern Iowa. The Panthers struggled early against FIU, but eventually won big. Against Ball State, Iowa won by a slim four points. Pitt also handily beat Boston College 30-20 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. Meanwhile, last week, the Hawkeyes failed their only true test, losing to Iowa State at home. When you add it all up, Pitt has looked significantly better than Iowa has this year.
3. Pitt gets the game at home: This is such a basic reason but one that shouldn't be overlooked. The Panthers playing at home is a huge advantage and it just makes it easy to pick them here. In addition, it's also Iowa's first road game of the year. Pitt doesn't have the disadvantage of traveling or facing a hostile (we hope, anyway) crowd as Iowa will, and that's generally worth a few points.
It's a game that can go either way, but based on what we've seen from each team so far this year, it's hard not to like the Panthers here.
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