The goal of appearing in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game is as realistic for Pittsburgh as it was going into last week, but the Panthers’ margin of error has become smaller.
Ahead of a home matchup with Miami last week, Pitt was rolling with a No. 17 ranking and a four-game winning streak. However, the Panthers got humbled in a 38-34 home loss, and now they have to overcome some adversity entering their final four games of the year, starting with a contest against Duke on Saturday in Durham, N.C.
Pitt (6-2, 3-1 ACC) is still in first place in the ACC Coastal division, but instead of a two-game cushion, it’s now just one game.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said, “but we’ll bounce back. All of our goals are still in front of us.”
Pitt will head to Duke led by one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, Kenny Pickett, who continued his brilliant play this season even in defeat against the Hurricanes.
Pickett threw for 519 yards and three touchdowns, though he was intercepted twice. He ranks sixth in the country with 2,755 passing yards and is tied for fourth with 26 TD passes.
Odds are good Pickett will rack up even more yards going up against a Duke defense that is giving up 294.5 yards of passing and 33.3 points per game.
After a 3-1 start, the Blue Devils (3-5, 0-4) are reeling, entering on a four-game losing streak.
Duke has done little right in league play, giving up 40.5 points per game and scoring seven or fewer points in three of the four defeats.
In road losses the last two weeks to Virginia and Wake Forest, Duke has been outscored 93-7.
“No one is quitting,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “Nobody is not enthusiastic. I keep hearing that a lot. Our kids are not doing that. When you are fighting, you have to fight with technique, and you have to fight at a higher level from an execution standpoint.”
Pitt is looking to win its sixth straight over Duke in the rivalry. The Panthers have won nine of the past 10 matchups, including the most recent contest, 33-30 at Durham in 2019.
–Field Level Media