Well today is the day. Our Pitt Panthers will kick off the 2010 season in Salt Lake City. This is one of the premiere non-conference games and will be a huge starting point for the victor in this game.
No longer can Utah be looked at as a non-BCS underdog ever since their undefeated season a few years ago with Urban Meyer at the helm. Since that point, Utah has been a force in college football. They have played well enough and garnered enough support to earn them a spot in the PAC-12 meaning, they are now a BCS school.
Leading into the game you have heard all about the superstars for Pitt and the great home field advantage for Utah. We also are waiting to see how new comers such as Tino Sunseri and the back 7 for Utah fare in their first action as starters.
For Pitt to win this game, they need to have a balanced, successful, offensive attack. Utah has a very good defensive line which could cause many problems. The weakness of this Utes team will be in the secondary. We finally get to see the true trust level of this team as Tino is the first quarterback that Wanny has recruited long term for himself. If they let Tino throw as much as Bill Stull towards the end of the season, Pitt should be in good shape tonight. If they hold him back, Pitt is in trouble. Utah knows that we are going to run the ball all day long. A 1 dimensional offense will allow Utah to hide their secondary playing directly into their strength. A few successful passes will push them back a bit allowing more room for the running game. Without the respect for the pass, we will see the Panthers struggling in the run game. Due to this, Pitt should not expect to run the ball all game and expect to win.
On Defense, I expect Pitt to play very well. Pitt has done well against most versions of the spread. This shouldn't be like the Fiesta bowl where all of the misdirections and lack of defensive adjustments leads to a dejected Panther fan base. What we should expect to see is the defensive line controlling the line of scrimmage, stopping the run, and putting pressure on the quarterback. Our main weakness will come from the outside linebacker position and cornerbacks. Dan Mason should be in store for a great season, but if we do not see improvement from Max Gruder and the Williams/Roberts tandem, we are in trouble. We also need Ricky Gary and Antuan Reed to provide consistent, adequate play. We saw our corners struggle ever since the departure of Revis. I don't think any fan is ever expecting to have a cornerback like him year in and year out, but consistency at the position will go a long way in helping the team reach their goal of a Big East Championship.
For this game I don't see Wanny opening anything up offensively since we are opening in a hostile environment with a sophomore quarterback starting his first collegiate game. This over-reliance on the run will pose problems for the offense as our new interior linemen will most like struggle with Utah's front four.
On defense Pitt will hang and play well keeping us in the game. The defensive line will be as good as advertised and be a menace all season long. The linebackers and secondary will have their mistakes, but they will provide enough for Pitt to play solid defensively and remain one of the top units not just in the conference, but in the country.
Pitt 27, Utah 30.