Week 2 of the college football schedule brings us an intriguing non-conference matchup between SEC Tennessee and defending ACC champion Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Both are coming off statement wins: Tennessee, in a loss over Ball State that showcased their offensive firepower; and Pittsburgh, which opened with a dramatic 7-point win over rival West Virginia.
Here’s what you need to know about this Saturday’s matchup.
how to look
When: Saturday, September 10
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Television: ABC Network
Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Pitt odds vs. UT, point spread, betting lines
Line: Tennessee -6.5
Money line: UT -250 PITT +188
FPI Choice: Tennessee 54.1%
Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee: what to watch
1. Tennessee May Move on. The Vols appear to have picked up where they left off last season, when they posted an offense ranked among the top 10 in college football. The core of that unit returns, led by Hendon Hooker at quarterback, after a 351-yard passing effort with 2 touchdowns and 2 rushing TDs on just 5 carries. In all, UT hit for 218 rushing yards.
2. Vols can pressure Pitt’s line. West Virginia’s defensive front was able to put early and consistent pressure on Pittsburgh for much of Game 1, allowing the unit to throw Kedon Slovis out of rhythm at times. Tennessee can bring enough power from the rim to move the pocket, scare off Slovis and derail Pittsburgh’s plan to set up the run early.
3. Slovis vs. UT High School. Pittsburgh is likely to catch up with the Vols most of the day, so Slovis will have to test a Vols secondary that struggled last season, ranking 102nd nationally against the pass, allowing more 250 passing yards per game.
Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh: Basic Facts
+ Tennessee has scored 45+ points in 4 straight games, a school record
+ Pitt scored at least 30 points in 14 of his last 18 games
+ UT is averaging 481.6 yards per game under Josh Heupel and has topped 400 yards in 11 of 14 games
+ Pittsburgh is 22-6 under Pat Narduzzi when rushing for 200 yards
+ Hendon Hooker has thrown a TD pass in 13 straight games
+ Pitt is 7-0 under Narduzzi when rushing for 300 yards and 2-0 when he reaches 400 yards rushing
+ Hooker tied for fewest INT (3) among QBs who threw 300 passes
+ Pittsburgh is 20-7 when rushing for 100 yards under Narduzzi
+ Tennessee is 11-0 when allowing fewer than 25 points and 1-6 when allowing 30 or more points under Heupel
+ Pitt is 12-5 under Narduzzi when scoring a defensive TD
+ Vols are 8-1 when leading after the third quarter with Heupel
+ Pittsburgh is 15-2 in games when holding an opponent to less than 250 yards
+ Tennessee averaged 1.6 points per minute last season, tied with Western Kentucky for the most in FBS
Two terrific quarterbacks will work against secondary units that allow them to get some decent yards downfield most of the day.
Pitt brings the superior passing unit, but his seven defensemen won’t fare well against Hooker if he gets into an early rhythm testing midfield.
Slovis has shown he can make the big pitch given time, but getting that time is an open question after watching Pittsburgh’s frontline struggle against an inexperienced Mountaineer lobby.
But it’s not just Slovis who works behind the Pitt line. He watches for Rodney Hammond, who scored twice on 16 carries against West Virginia while averaging 4.6 yards per rush.
Saturday is shaping up to be a game that will almost certainly come down to the right arm of one of these quarterbacks.
Ultimately, that lead goes to Hooker, who brings in Cedric Tillman, a 1,000-yard receiver with 16 TDs a year ago, and a veteran offensive line.
College Football Venue Prediction: Tennessee 41, Pittsburgh 36
According to the AP Top 25 Poll
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- notre dame
- oklahoma state
- state of michigan
- State of North Carolina
- old lady
- forest stele
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