1. The City Game-Pitt squares off with Duquesne in the annual City Game presented by GNC at PPG Paints Arena Friday, Dec. 1. The Panthers are on a 2-game winning streak following victories over Lehigh and High Point.
  2. Revenge-Of course the obvious objective for Pitt in this game is getting revenge for losing to Duquesne last season in a 64-55 defeat, ending a streak of Pitt victories that began in 2001. Pitt deserved that loss because they didn’t show up, had a player suspended (Jamel Artis) and slacked vs. a Dukes team that played their version of Rocky Balboa and got the W as a result.
  3. Series History-Overall, Pitt leads the series 53-32, with the series beginning in 1932 with Duquesne winning 28-21. These days, that’s the score after the first 10 minutes of a college game.
  4. Pitt Stats-Ryan Luther has recorded three double-doubles in seven games this season. He enters Friday night’s contest averaging 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Jared Wilson-Frame is averaging a team-high 14.0 points per game and ranks among the ACC leaders in three-point field goals per game and three-point field goal percentage.
  5. Duquesne Stats-The Dukes are 2-2 and have had three different 20-point scorers in its first four games: Rene Castro-Cannedy(22 vs. St. Francis Brooklyn & career-high-tying 26 vs. Cornell), Mike Lewis II (22 vs. VMI) & Tarin Smith(21 vs. VMI). First-year coach Keith Dambrot has this team ready to go and Pitt better be ready.
  6. Prediction-Although the Dukes will be charged-up to play this game, I can’t see Pitt losing 2-games in a row to them (which hasn’t happened since 1980) apparently Pitt Coach Kevin Stallings claimed that he didn’t get the magnitude of the City Game. After losing to them last season, I bet he does now. Pitt wins 80-69.
  7. Pitt out of ACC/Big Ten Challenge-Apparently Pitt was left out of this tournament for the first time since they joined the ACC and it’s a shame, because apparently, the conference felt like the team wasn’t good enough (note their last-place pre-season prediction) but I agree that they would’ve been eaten alive if they played in that tournament.
  8. College Basketball Rankings-Although it’s still early, the AP Top 5 looks like this: 1. Duke 2. Kansas 3. Michigan St 4. Villanova 5. Notre Dame. I can understand the first four as they are heavyweights, but Notre Dame?? I didn’t expect to see them ranked this high so early in the season. That just makes the conference better.
  9. Pitt beats Miami-I know it was almost a week ago, but it still blows my mind that Pitt showed up and beat up on The U. They made Miami look more like a thunderstorm than a Hurricane in a 24-14 win. I was impressed and proud of them at the same time. Too bad they didn’t have the sense to play smart football vs. Virginia Tech, the Panthers would be in a bowl.
  10. College Football Playoff Top 4-After several upsets, here’s how the playoff currently looks: 1. Clemson 2. Auburn 3. Oklahoma 4. Wisconsin. Alabama (who was upset by Auburn) is #5 and Miami (who was upset by Pitt) is #7. This weekend’s Conference Championships will tell the real story. And you know the Playoff Committee will search for a way to still get Alabama in there, which would be highway robbery.
  11. Heisman Watch-Well, when the season began, I thought Penn State RB Saquon Barkley was a shoo-in to win it, but not anymore. It will come down to OK State’s Baker Mayfield (4,097 yards, 37 TDs) Stanford’s Bryce Love (1,848 yards, 16 TDs) and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (3489 passing yards, 1,443 rushing yards) You know they will give it to Mayfield, but I would give it to Jackson, who would be the first NCAA player since OSU’s Archie Griffin to win it consecutive years.
  12. Steelers vs. Bengals-The 9-2 Steelers continue their quest for their 3rd AFC North Division title in 4 years as they take on the 5-6 Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati Monday Night. The Steelers won their first meeting over the Bengals in Week 7 29-14.
  13. Outlook-Despite what many folks are saying, I do not believe the Steelers are foolish enough to overlook the Bengals. They’ve done that enough and they’re trying for a first-round bye and Homefield Advantage. Plus, they know they have the Patriots breathing down their necks and another AFC North (Baltimore Ravens) the following week. The Steelers need to handle business, plain and simple.
  14. Steelers Offense-I thinks they’ve really stepped it up in their last 2 games. It’s nice to see them score TDs in the Red Zone and QB Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 8 TDs in those 2 games. WR Antonio Brown is having fun again, which spells doom for opposing teams. RB Le’Veon Bell is leading the NFL in rushing, so they’re finally got their groove back.
  15. Steelers Defense-Obviously, I don’t have problems with the pass rush, but the secondary continues to have their issues with blown coverages and missed tackles. Plus, they’re missing veteran CB Joe Haden, who’s out with a broken fibula. This unit needs to get back to basics and play fundamental football and not look like a bunch of clowns out there.
  16. Cam Heyward-This man has truly carried the defense on his back and his 9 sacks are pretty amazing. He has a nose for the QB, which is remarkable in a 3-4 defense. His 2-sack performance earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors and he could make his first Pro Bowl. He also has a shot at breaking Keith Willis’ DE team sack record of 14 in 1986.
  17. Philadelphia Eagles-This team is still on fire with a 9-game winning streak and a 10-1 record. They can clinch the NFC East Division with a win or tie over Seattle. I think they’ll get it done.
  18. Eli Manning gets benched-Just a dumb move. Despite the NY Giants 2-9 record, how can you bench your franchise QB?? Especially for Geno Smith? The Giants may never win again, and it may lead to Eli’s exodus and it would be justified. The Giants are a joke.
  19. Herman Edwards getting back into coaching? According to ESPN, the former NY Jets and KC Chiefs coach is interviewing with Arizona State for their head coaching position. Of course, the position was open after the firing of former Pitt Coach Todd ‘High Octane’ Graham.
  20. NBA Standings-Boston is still #1 in the Eastern Conference followed by Detroit, but Cleveland is gaining ground after getting their act together. In the West, it’s Houston, followed by Golden State and San Antonio. But the surprise of the young season is still Philadelphia who remains over .500. Go figure.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbnamediaRay on twitter

 

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