18# Pitt vs. Virginia (Game Notes, Players To Watch, My Prediction)
By Keith Platt Jr
“The Coastal Division Title can be decided this Saturday at Heinz Field when Virginia travels to Pittsburgh to battle the panthers. With a Pitt win they can clinch a spot in the ACC title game, Virginia on the other hand would need to beat Pitt and rival Virginia Tech next weekend to claim the ACC crown. Virginia comes to Pittsburgh banged up with a ton a injured players and the Virginia Cavaliers are coming off two straight losses. Most recent was a 28-3 beatdown courtesy of Notre Dame. But Virginia still remains one game behind Pitt. Pitt enters this Showdown ranked 18th in the country and survived a feisty North Carolina team in a overtime win last Thursday night.”
Pitt leads the All Time Series 8-4, But Virginia won the most recent meeting 30-14 at Heinz Field in 2019.
-Virginia- The Cavaliers have scored 30 or more points in 8 out of 9 games and gained over 400 yards in each game until they lost to Notre Dame recently.
– Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong has over 3,500 yards passing with 27 TDs – 8 ints. But left the Notre Dame game early with a undisclosed injury. ( His status is questionable vs. Pitt) if he can’t go Virginia will start Jake Woolfolk at QB.
-Virginia Sophomore WR Dontayvion Wicks ranks 3rd in. ACC receiving yards with 44 catches 1,004 yards 9 TDs and averaging 22 yards per catch.
-Virginia Junior Linebacker Nick Jackson is a tackling machine 95 total tackles, 43 solo tackles, 1 sack.
-Virginia ranks last in ACC rushing defense and 122nd nationally
– Pitt’s run game has been hit or miss all season. But the trio of Vincent Davis, Izzy Abanikanda and freshman Rodney Hammond Jr. Have all had big games this season. The trio has 4 200 yard rushing games this season
-Pitt Sophomore WR Jordan Addison has 60 receptions 1,070 yards. 11 TDs. 17 yards per catch. He ranks 2nd in ACC receiving yards. His 11 touchdown catches are tied for best in the nation and the most by a Pitt Panther since Larry Fitzgerald caught 22 TDs in 2003.
– Pitt QB Kenny Pickett (3,517 yards passing. 32 TDs- 4 ints 67% completion percentage)is ranked as the 1# QB prospect in NFL draft expert Mel Kiper’s draft rankings.
– The Pitt Panthers and their opponents score a average of 58ppg.
– Pitt is ranked 39th in Total Defense but 87th in Pass Defense.
– Keep a eye on Pitt LB Sirvocea Dennis- This explosive, playmaking Linebacker is always around the ball it seems.
*Players To Watch
Pitt- DL. Junior Habakkuk Baldonado 6’5″ 265lbs- If you watch Baldonado on every play you can easily see he has a non stop motor and a knack for blowin plays up. This guy is a game wrecker! Against Virginia should be no different. This season so far Baldanado has 30 total tackles. 17 solo. 10.5 tackles for loss. 8 sacks. 1 fumble recovery. 8 QB hurries and 1 fumble.
Virginia- QB/WR Senior Keytoan Thompson 6’4″ 210lbs – If you take a long look at the Virginia roster Thompson is listed as a Football player. He was recruited as a QB, this New Orleans native is 2nd on the cavaliers with 60 catches. Most of his catches have been with a cast on his left hand, many of his catches have been in key moments. If Virginia WR Billy Kemp (63 catches) can’t play look for Thompson to be a big factor in this showdown.
Pitt 42-24 over Virginia
“If Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong is healthy I expect a high scoring shootout. If not look for Pitt to put up alot of points against a Virginia team that has a weak run defense. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett and company should open up the offense and feast on a wounded Virginia Cavaliers team. Watching Virginia struggle last week against Notre Dame doesn’t bode well. Even if Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong is healthy they’ll probably play better than last week but it won’t be enough to beat Pitt at Heinz Field. I think the Panthers are on a mission”