Pinstripe Bowl prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen between Pitt and Northwestern.
I loved Pat Narduzzi when he was Michigan State. I loved Pat Fitzgerald when he was winning back-to-back national defensive player of the year awards at Northwestern when I was growing up in Chicago. This is a tough choice, but, against my gut, I’m going to go with the Wildcats. James Connor and Justin Jackson will go back and forth with touchdown runs, and Jackson gets the winner with under two minutes left.
I hate to pick against my Northwestern friends here, but I have to go with Pitt. I think Anthony Walker is a promising linebacker with a great future in the NFL, but he can’t do it all for the Wildcats. Clayton Thorson will have an okay game, but he’ll be outdone by Nathan Peterman. James Conner will tote the rock for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns, and help give the Panthers the victory.
While most of the damage done against the Panthers’ defense has been through the air, the Wildcats need a big game from star running back Justin Jackson, whose 1,300 rushing yards were third in the Big Ten in 2016. But Pitt was No. 3 in the ACC against the run, so it will be a challenge for Jackson. Ultimately, he’ll be able to put up 100 yards on the ground.
However, Wildcats quarterback Clayton Thorson won’t be able to do quite enough even against a porous Panthers secondary. Pitt has too much offense, and it’s a unit that won’t lose focus despite OC Matt Canada moving onto LSU after the game. Pat Narduzzi and Co. score a win in this ACC-Big Ten battle.
I originally had Pitt winning this game, but since offensive coordinator Matt Canada is now wearing purple and gold at LSU, I’m changing my pick to Northwestern. Sure, the offensive system is still in place, but the man calling the shots is no longer there, and that is bad news for a Pitt team that has to outscore opponents due to a porous defense. Northwestern with the victory.