Clemson vs. Pitt prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen during Saturday’s ACC matchup between the Tigers and Panthers.
Pitt only needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Panthers won’t get it here. Clemson has the feel of one of those veteran teams that opened with near-unattainable expectations, plodded along through the early part of the season, caught a little luck while working out the kinks, and started peaking at season’s end when it mattered.
Dabo Swinney is over the moon with how much fun it is to coach this team, and Deshaun Watson is one of the toughest players in football so I don’t see the shoulder injury hindering him. Tigers win by double digits, while the Panthers wait another week to become bowl-eligible.
Nathan Peterman won’t be asked to throw a lot in this game, and when he does let it fly, he’ll get picked off at least once. James Conner carries another heavy workload, and he’ll find his way for six, but it won’t be enough. Deshaun Watson will be good to go despite the shoulder bruise, and he’ll do what he always does. He’ll hurt Pitt with his arm and his legs, and Wayne Gallman will “dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge” his way through defenders all day long. The Tigers win with both eyes closed and their hands tied behind their backs.
Pitt’s offense is capable of giving the athletic and physical Clemson defense some first-half problems if quarterback Nate Peterman plays mistake-free football in the opening few quarters. But the Tigers will turn things up a notch defensively in the second half for coordinator Brent Venables, and a returning Deshaun Watson will pick apart a very porous Panthers secondary as the Tigers pull away. Keep an eye on Panthers return man Quadree Henderson, though. He is a special talent and has become one of the best return men in the Power Five. He can be a real X-Factor in the team’s quest to upset the Tigers.
Clemson is going to lose on its way to missing the College Football Playoff, but it won’t be this week. Pitt has been giving up a lot of points lately, including 51 to Miami in a loss this past Saturday. Where did that Narduzzi defense go? No one knows. Clemson wins, and Dabo does an annoying dance or something to prove that he is a “cool guy” and “hip with the team.”