Through the first month of the season, Pitt experienced the euphoria of opening with a dramatic win in the “Backyard Brawl” over West Virginia, followed by a disappointing overtime loss to Tennessee.
Then came the frustration of last week when the Panthers could never get anything going and fell to visiting Georgia Tech, a program that just fired its coach.
The Panthers hope to rebound from the loss that knocked them out of the Top 25 when they host struggling Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Pitt (3-2, 0-1 ACC) remained No. 17 after its win over West Virginia and was ranked No. 24 when it went 2-for-12 on third downs and got whistled for 12 penalties in Saturday’s 26-21 home loss to Georgia Tech.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis completed 26 of 45 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Two were in the final two minutes, when Pitt tried to overcome a 19-7 deficit. The Panthers struggled after running back Israel Abanikanda exited with an upper-body injury late in the first half.
“I don’t know if there’s ever a good loss because you can learn from a bad win, too. We’ve done that, as well,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “We just got to keep getting better as a football team. We’re going to learn regardless of a loss or a win. We’re going to make our adjustments, regroup, start over again.”
Abanikanda is the ACC’s second-leading rusher behind Syracuse’s Sean Tucker, and if he is out, Vincent Davis would get a bulk of the carries after gaining 80 yards Saturday.
Virginia Tech (2-3, 1-1) is off to an inconsistent start under first-year coach Brent Pry. The Hokies have scored the third-fewest points in the ACC.
Virginia Tech earned consecutive wins over Boston College and Wofford but followed it up by getting outscored 74-20 in losses to West Virginia and North Carolina.
Against West Virginia, the Hokies held the ball for just 21:16, committed 15 penalties and rushed for 35 yards. In last week’s 41-10 loss to North Carolina, Virginia Tech improved slightly in those areas but allowed 527 yards to the Tar Heels.
“As a team and everybody individually, we know what we’re capable of. We see it every day (at practice),” Hokies wideout Kaleb Smith said. “Just have to execute.”
Pitt has won three of the past four meetings, including last year’s 28-7 win in Blacksburg and a 47-14 rout at home two years ago when it racked up 556 yards on offense.