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Weekly Kickoff: Pitt faces Georgia Tech at Homecoming

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An early look at the Panthers’ game against the Yellow Jackets

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt faces Georgia Tech on Saturday at Homecoming. While a lot of focus will be on the Panthers’ throwbacks, which will be worn for that contest, this is a big game for the team.

The Panthers will try to keep some momentum going after last week’s win against Marshall. No, the end wasn’t real pretty. But as I said then, 3-2 certainly beats what could have been 2-3.

FWIW, ESPN.com’s matchup predictor gives the advantage to the Panthers, giving Pitt about a 75% chance to win. Like Pitt, Georgia Tech has beaten the teams they were supposed to (Boston College, Mercer, and Vanderbilt) and lost to the better teams they’ve faced (Clemson and, most recently, Miami).

Obviously, the key to beating Georgia Tech is on stopping their unique option offense. The good news is that Pitt’s defenders have seen that quite a bit (by comparison, anyway) in facing the Yellow Jackets and Navy recently. This is something that they don’t see all the time but also something that’s not completely foreign to most of the players.

As usual, Tech’s strength is in the running game and they rank 28th nationally in rushing with just over 225 yards per game. The passing game is virtually non-existent ranking near the bottom of the entire FBS with only 108.8 yards per contest.

Now, obviously that’s welcome news for Pitt, who continues to struggle in pass defense. The question for me is if we see Georgia Tech throw more because of the Panthers’ secondary woes. I don’t know that they’ll go crazy, but if they don’t pass more than normal, I would be surprised.

Another thing to watch is to see what Georgia Tech does with the no-huddle. This weekend, the Yellow Jackets used the no-huddle quite a bit in their loss to Miami. That will be another thing the Pitt defense needs to contend with.

Defensively, Georgia Tech has been pretty good. They rank 28th in the nation in total defense and 21st in scoring defense, allowing only 18.4 points per game. In other words, Pitt could find scoring as much as they have recently a little bit tougher.

Ironically, the Yellow Jackets have had more trouble defending the pass, ranking only around the middle of the FBS, giving up nearly 225 passing yards per game. Given what Pitt was able to do this past weekend through the air against Marshall.

Very winnable game for Pitt at home, but obviously, no guarantees here.

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