Pitt’s regular season concludes on Saturday against Boston College. The Panthers no doubt will be looking to rebound from an ugly game last weekend against Virginia Tech that ended their hopes of winning the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Boston College is a winnable game for Pitt, though hardly a gimme. The Eagles are only 5-6 on the year but have endured some really close defeats, losing by a combined 12 points to Florida State, Louisville, and Wake Forest. A few more points and Boston College’s season would look a lot more impressive.
Still, it’s hard not to like Pitt here, especially at home. Much will be made of Boston College’s win against surging Virginia Tech. But that victory came a long time ago in the season opener and the Hokies were clearly not the same team they are now. I’m not sure how much stock to put in that win.
The Eagles have also looked very bad on occasion. They were doubled up by a bad Kansas team, 48-24, after that Virginia Tech win. Like everyone else, they were crushed by Clemson, 59-7. And while some thought this past weekend’s game against Notre Dame would be closer, Boston College was squashed in that one, too, losing 40-7.
If you’re a Pitt fan, you’re probably more concerned about Boston College’s offense than their defense. The worry is that with a struggling Panthers’ offense, Pitt can’t keep up if it turns into a shootout. The Eagles have scored at least 30 points in seven of their 11 contests and have scored at least 45 on three occasions, including hanging 58 on Syracuse.
That’s somewhat surprising just because their bread and butter is really in the running game. You typically see those kinds of big totals on passing teams but the Eagles don’t even have a single receiver with 450 yards. The player to watch is running back A.J. Dillon, who has 1,507 rushing yards and 13 scores. Those 1,507 yards, by the way, are good for third in the entire nation.
Dillon has been very good, obviously, but he’s also been far less impressive against the better teams Boston College has faced. He didn’t come that close to reaching 100 yards in any of the games against Notre Dame, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and, collectively, he averaged fewer than four yards per carry against those teams.
Defensively, Boston College hasn’t been very good, allowing nearly 33 points per game. And while their schedule hasn’t been an easy one, they’ve had some difficulties stopping a lot of teams, including some pedestrian ones even after the 99 points they allowed against Clemson and Notre Dame. Kansas, as mentioned, scored 48 against them. Louisville scored 41. Florida State hit 38. That side of the ball has been a problem, to say the least.
The biggest thing I hate about this game is that Boston College needs a win to secure bowl eligibility. You just never want to play a five-win team in the last game of the year. And when you factor in that Pitt will be without safety Paris Ford for the first half because of his targeting penalty in the last game, that will make things tougher. But the Panthers have a lot to play for themselves and I expect will be plenty motivated on Senior Day at home in the last game of the regular season.
Not a gimme by any stretch but a game that you really should win if you’re Pitt.