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Against the Odds: Pitt heavy underdogs to Clemson

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt travels on the road to face potentially the best team in the country on Saturday in Clemson. It was no surprise that the Panthers would be underdogs - the question was, how big of an underdog would they be considered?

Vegas answered that question earlier this week and it's not real pretty. The Panthers opened at 19-point underdogs and that line has even grown a bit to 20 1/2 or 21 points.

The argument is there, clearly. Pitt just faced a not-as-good Miami team and lost by 23. Losing by three touchdowns against Clemson is surely possible and with the pass defense against a team that likes to, well, pass ... yeah, you get the point.

I can see the Panthers keeping it closer simply because they score points. And I don't necessarily buy the argument that they won't score against Clemson. They've faced other good defenses this season. Against Virginia Tech, a top 20 defense, for example, the Panthers scored 36 points. Clemson's defense is ranked slightly higher but I'm not sure that translates into Pitt floundering entirely on offense. Anything can happen in any given game, but as a whole, Pitt has scored points this year. A lot of them.

Pitt's best chance will be controlling the clock and converting touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. Keeping Clemson's offense off the field won't guarantee success (see the Oklahoma State game where Pitt dominated time of possession (38 minutes to 22) and still gave up 45 points just because of quick scores), but it will help to keep things from getting out of hand.

If the Panthers can't score, this one could get ugly.

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