With Pitt coming off a bye week, I wanted to take a look at the team’s performances historically under Pat Narduzzi in such situations. As with most things during his tenure so far, it’s kind of been a mixed bag.
Narduzzi is 2-2 coming off of bye weeks. That’s a relatively small sample size but here are the results of those contests:
2018 - beat Duke, 54-45
2017 - lost to UNC at home, 34-31
2016 - lost to No. 25 VT at home, 39-36
2015 - beat VT, 17-13
One thing of note here are the performances by the offense and defense after the bye week. The 2015 game was an exception but these have mostly been higher-scoring contests. Pitt’s defense looks sharp this season and, with a Top 20 ranking, could change that. Conversely, though, the offense has had trouble scoring points at times this year and that could mean for more of a 2015-like game.
To keep these games in context, we have to look at the quality of opponents. In particular, let’s look at the two losses. I mean, should Pitt have lost those games?
In 2016, Pitt lost to a legitimately good Virginia Tech team that went 10-4. That’s hardly a loss you can blame on the abnormalities of coming off a bye week. North Carolina in 2017, though, was not a good team. The Tar Heels were only 3-9 that year and Pitt laid an egg there. But Pitt, of course, has historically had trouble with North Carolina for whatever reason since joining the ACC. Blaming the bye week there seems harder to do since the Panthers are a ‘perfect’ 0-6 against the Tar Heels overall since joining the conference in 2013.
Finally, we see that the games have also been close with none decided by more than ten points. Pitt won last year’s contest by nine but also trailed by as much as 11 in the second half and had to rally to win. That one was much closer than the score indicated.
I’m not sure if Pitt will win on Friday against the Orange. But if you combine the history of Pitt’s bye week games under Narduzzi and the fact that they are only a marginal favorite this week, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to suggest a blowout win for either team.