Pitt Gameday Buzz: Today Could Be the Biggest Non-Conference Game of Narduzzi's Pitt Career

 

(AP)

The game today against Tennessee is extremely pivotal.  It is about as important as any non-conference game has been under Pat Narduzzi aside from the four against Penn State.  So why is this game against a below average SEC team so important?  Let me tell you.

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Pat Narduzzi has never won 10 games as the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh.  I guess now he is the Chris Bickell ’97 Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers, but he hasn’t won 10 games as that either…yet. 

This has to be the year Narduzzi succeeds in beating expectations.  He has a 5th year quarterback, plenty of returning talent on defense, and an easy non-conference schedule.  If this is not a successful season, the questions will be asked.  

Is this guy ever going to deliver?  Should Pitt cut ties and look elsewhere?  Can we ever be a great program under Narduzzi?

Quieting the Haters

The best way to shut these questions down is winning the game against the Volunteers today.  Pitt is expected to win and is favored by 3 points at last check.  However, it is Pitt's toughest non-conference opponent on paper, and a win today would pave the way for a very successful season.

If Pitt were to win today, they would be 2-0 with their toughest non-conference opponent behind them.  Next Saturday, they face a Western Michigan team that has a decent chance to beat some in-conference MAC opponents, but should be an easy task for the Panthers.  The game against Western Michigan is followed by another home game against New Hampshire.  Pitt will be favored in each of these games so logically a win against Tennessee should mean a 4-0 start for Narduzzi and the Panthers.

Momentum Into Atlanta

I’m not going to dive entirely into the ACC schedule, as I have done a couple times before.  However, Pitt should also be favored in their first conference game even if it is on the road.  The Panthers face a Georgia Tech team that lost to Northern Illinois last week in their opener.  If Pitt goes into Atlanta and takes care of business against Georgia Tech, the Panthers will start 5-0.  They also may go into Blacksburg against Virginia Tech ranked in the Top-25. 

This is the start Narduzzi needs to beat expectations and keep his seat from getting too hot.  Start the season 5-0 against five teams you are favored against.  That is what good football teams do and that is what good football coaches succeed in doing.  It would also go a long way toward getting that 10-win season we all desperately want for this program.  This is all starts today with a win.

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