Pitt Gameday Buzz - The Year of the Broken Curses and a Plea to Panther Fans Everywhere

One thing I love about college football is the many different levels of success that can be aspired for and reached by an individual program.  For most of the country, a National Championship is just not feasible.  We have seen undefeated teams left out of the playoffs because they are not in the Power 5 conferences or two good losses being worse than one bad loss, or Ohio State belongs in because they're Ohio State blah blah blah.  

Also, we have seen five or six (or really just three) juggernauts that just continue to battle each other for the top every season.  Therefore, success is measured very differently in college sports, especially football.

Today’s Pitt football game against Western Michigan means nothing in terms of winning the Coastal Division or playing for the ACC Championship.  Also, as I spoke about the grand scheme, Pitt winning will most likely not set them up any better to land in the College Football Playoffs.  Unlike the Pittsburgh Steelers where it is a Super Bowl or bust.  

However, this is the awesome thing about college football.  Those are not the only goals.  For Pitt, and the fanbase, a 10-win season is a goal of ours.  So I am begging Chris Bickell ’97 Head Coach Pat Narduzzi…do not overlook this Western Michigan team.  And I am begging Pitt fans everywhere to show up.

Momentum High

After two games, I feel the best I have about the Pitt football program since they beat Penn State in 2016. Kenny Pickett agrees.  He says that "this is the tightest team he has been on in his Panther career.  I think the fans can feel that.  This team has a great vibe to it.

You cannot waste a year where you have a 5th-year quarterback, wide receivers finally holding onto the ball (for the most part), and actually seeing production from the tight end position.  Add to that a defense that cannot be stopped up front and continues to force turnovers at an impressive rate.  Additionally, the Panthers just left Neyland as victors over the Tennessee Volunteers.  The momentum is sky rocketing.

Therefore, I expect a huge turn out today at Heinz Field.  Sure, it’s not the first home game of the season, but the Panthers schedule didn’t mesh well for a big turnout against UMass.  As passionate as some Pitt fans are, it’s tough to convince the whole family to ditch their Labor Day plans to watch the Panthers blow out a team that should still be in the FCS.  Maybe I am speaking from personal experience here, I think those that missed the first game are itching to attend this one.

Honestly, the players deserve it.  They played their hearts out at Tennessee and it was culminated in the 4th and 1 play where the defense gang tackled the Volunteer ball carrier to secure the win.  They deserve our attendance and our attention.  If you can, show up today.  The game isn’t televised anyway so you might as well get out in the beautiful 80-degree weather while we still have the chance.  Snow and salt trucks are just around the corner.

Not To Be Overlooked

Western Michigan is not a pushover.  Sure, the line is in favor of the Panthers by 15, but how are the bookmakers supposed to grade a MAC opponent against a Power 5 team who just had their first road victory against a nonconference Power 5 opponent since 2008.  Don’t be deceived by the line, Pitt cannot overlook the Broncos of WMU.

This means offensive coordinator Mark Whipple cannot curl up into a conservative game plan.  They need to hold their foot on the gas pedal from the opening whistle.  With a home game versus New Hampshire up next, Pitt has an incredible opportunity to start 4-0 for the first time since 2000.  The Panthers would then head to Atlanta for a road game against Georgia Tech where they would also find themselves as the favorite.  So if Pitt wins today they would be favored to start 5-0.  A feat that, if accomplished, would be the first time since 1991.  

This is the season to break curses.  First one broken was nonconference Power 5 opponents on the road.  Next, is a 4-0 start.  After that, a 5-0 start.  Finally, Pitt will get 10 wins for the first time under Pat Narduzzi.  Start 5-0 and the success follows.  And it all starts by not overlooking Western Michigan today.  We, as fans, need to pack Heinz Field and get that victory.  Hail to Pitt.