Football Bye-Week Theater: Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Preview


Boston College football fans have time to kill during the bye week, so we’re previewing all of the other Atlantic Coast Conference games. Here, we look at Pittsburgh vs. Virginia on Saturday.

The ACC Coastal is a mess, such that any team in it could head to Charlotte. To that end, Pittsburgh vs. Virginia could have as much say in determining the division champion as any other game.

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Now Pitt, people could have envisioned in the offseason, but Virginia? Why not? The Wahoos have already played better than most expected and weathered a very difficult opening stretch well.

One of these teams is going to be 2-0 in the ACC and might end up in sole possession of first place by Saturday night.

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia: The Line

Virginia opened as 3.5-point favorites, but the spread has gone up to 6.5.

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia: What’s Behind UVA’s Rise?

For one thing, the 2013 Virginia Cavaliers only had nine touchdown passes all season. The 2014 edition has eight, with six of them coming from Matt Johns.

Johns and Greyson Lambert have split time almost equally under center for the Cavaliers, with the former having had the better statistical year so far. This quarterback rotation seems to be working for Mike London, however, so that’s how it will stay, but Lambert was out for the Kent State game and is questionable for Pitt.

The other major factor is a semblance of a defense. Last year’s Hoos were right around the bottom of the ACC in some notable defensive categories and did not end up generating a lot of turnovers relative to the rest of the league. Virginia has had its moments so far, which is a step in the right direction.

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia: Which Pitt Team Shows Up?

For their sake, hopefully not the one that got embarrassed by Akron at home last weekend. Or the one that couldn’t close out Iowa despite leading most of the game.

The Panthers have looked slightly less impressive in each game they’ve played to date, starting with a 62-0 crushing of Pittsburgh, then a solid 30-20 win over your Boston College Eagles, followed by a so-so 42-25 victory over FIU, then the Iowa and Akron games, respectively. That is a disturbing trend that they hope will not continue.

If the Panthers are going to have a shot, they need James Conner to do his thing. The Eagles know what he can do, as Boston College helped him became the number three rusher in FBS at the moment. He faces what has been an excellent Virginia rush defense so far, allowing about 86.6 yards per game, and that’s including having played BYU and UCLA.

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia: The BC Connection

Boston College lost an ugly one to Pitt on September 5. The Eagles have not faced the Cavaliers since 2010, and will not again until 2017 under the current schedule rotation.

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia: Advantages

Virginia should be able to limit Pittsburgh’s offense, and Pittsburgh will probably be able to hold Virginia (who are not an explosive team as it is) in check. This looks like a close, low-scoring game.