Pitt vs. Georgia Tech prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Panthers and Yellow Jackets on Saturday at Heinz Field.
Pitt vs. Georgia Tech Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 – 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
TV Broadcast: ACC Extra
The Panthers (3-2, 0-1 ACC) blew a four-touchdown lead against Marshall before pulling away late to beat the Thundering Herd, 43-27, last Saturday night. Pat Narduzzi’s squad avoided another disaster two weeks after giving up a late go-ahead touchdown in a loss at Oklahoma State and seven days after a 13-point fourth-quarter lead turned into a last-second loss at North Carolina.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets once again could not solve Mark Richt in Atlanta, as the new Miami head coach moved to 14-0 as a head coach and an assistant against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas lost two fumbles that were returned for touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets fell 35-21.
Last season, the Panthers edged the Yellow Jackets, 31-28, on Chris Blewitt’s 56-yard field goal with 1:11 to go. Georgia Tech had won two straight in the series before that loss.
What To Know About Pitt
The Panthers have had a roller coaster ride of a season thus far. The losses to the Pokes and Tar Heels almost bled into a disastrous huge blown lead against Marshall, but Narduzzi’s squad hung on for the much-needed win. One aspect of the Panthers worth noting is that Narduzzi played a lot of freshmen against the Herd, including running back Chawntez Moss and wide receivers Tre Tipton and Maurice Ffrench. Those three combined for 156 yards of total offense and a pair of touchdowns.
What to Know About Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets suffered back-to-back home losses to Clemson and Miami, which indicates that Paul Johnson’s squad does not have the makeup to compete with the upper-echelon ACC squads. Justin Thomas and the Georgia Tech offense did manage to record 361 yards after being shut down in a 26-7 loss to Clemson, but the three turnovers by Thomas were critical. Those are mistakes that can’t happen by a veteran QB. The good news for the Jackets is freshman Dedrick Mills had another strong day on the ground, gaining 99 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Offense: Pitt. Quarterback Nate Peterman had a season-high 280 passing yards and two scores against Marshall, as the Panthers outgained the Thundering Herd 532-344.
Defense: Even. Pitt entered the game against Marshall with a pass defense that ranked No. 127 nationally, next-to-last in the FBS. The defense wasn’t great against the Herd, but that area shouldn’t get exposed against the Jackets. While Thomas is one of the better passers Johnson has had in Atlanta, Georgia Tech is still a ground-based squad.
Special Teams: Pitt. Electric Panthers receiver Quadree Henderson is always a threat to run a kickoff back for a score.
Coaching: Even. Can Johnson get the Jackets back on track, and will Narduzzi be able to elevate the Panthers to a top-tier ACC squad?
Intangibles: Pitt. The Panthers will be at home and know that they need to start racking up wins in league play.
Matchup To Watch
Henderson vs. Georgia Tech kick return coverage
Henderson could be a difference-maker for the Panthers at a key moment in any game. He ran the second-half kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown against Villanova, and he had an 84-yard return to set up a touchdown against Penn State. The sophomore wide receiver is yet another worry for a Georgia Tech team looking to spring an upset.
Spread: Pitt -6.5
Pitt vs. Georgia Tech Prediction
The Panthers are balanced on offense, and their shoddy pass defense will not get exposed by the Jackets. This should be a close game into the fourth, at which point Peterman, James Conner and the Pitt offense will impose their will on the Georgia Tech defense and pull away.
Pitt vs. Georgia Tech Score Prediction: Pitt 33, Georgia Tech 24