Staff Picks | ACC Championship Game predictions

The+Pitt+News+sports+desk+gives+its+predictions+for+the+Pitt+vs.+Wake+Forest+football+matchup+on+Dec.+4.

Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

The Pitt News sports desk gives its predictions for the Pitt vs. Wake Forest football matchup on Dec. 4.

By The Pitt News Staff

For just the second time in its storied history, Pitt football is headed to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ahead of its matchup with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, The Pitt News Sports desk gives its predictions for this weekend’s game.

Pitt wins 45-38 // Dalton Coppola, Assistant Sports Editor

While fans can expect an offensive shootout against the Demon Deacons, anticipate the Panthers to lean on the run game a little bit more this weekend as Wake Forest ranks No. 13 in the ACC in rushing defense.

Pitt wins 45-42 // Frankie Richetti, Staff Writer

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Whoever wins the turnover battle likely will emerge as the 2021 ACC Champion. The Panthers defense will take their lumps, but expect them to turnover redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman — who has thrown seven interceptions in his last four games.

Pitt wins 48-40 // Richie Smiechowski, Staff Writer

In a barnburner of epic proportions, expect super-senior quarterback Kenny Pickett to use both his arm and legs against a defense which allowed two rushing touchdowns to UNC junior quarterback Sam Howell. Being stifled in the run game offensively will force timely mistakes from the Demon Deacons passing game. 

Pitt wins 42-34 // Stephen Thompson, Sports Editor

Wake won’t make it easy. The Demon Deacons will be able to score enough to make things tight. But Pitt’s playmakers on offense — led by Pickett and sophomore wide receiver Jordan Addison — are just plain better, and I’m confident in the defense’s ability to make just enough stops to pull out a victory.

Pitt wins 45-35 // Will McGlynn, Staff Writer

Expect a high-scoring affair between two prolific offenses. Wake Forest struggled a bit with turnovers in its previous few matchups. Hartman and the Demon Deacons have put up points all season. But with some key turnovers and offensive firepower of their own, the Panthers should pull this one out. Look for Pickett to attack the defense on the ground as well as through the air due to Wake Forest’s difficulty stopping the run game.

Pitt wins 42-34 // Nick Aaron, For The Pitt News

In a shootout, Pitt’s front seven will come up big in the second half with a timely stop and a turnover or two off of the Demon Deacons offense. Pickett will put up gaudy passing numbers as usual, but his legs will be the difference in breaking a Wake Forest defense that has been suspect against the run. 

Pitt wins 48-41 // Brian Sherry, Staff Writer

This matchup will pan out similarly to the Virginia game — a high-scoring affair with many turnovers. On defense, the Panther pass rush will continue to rack up sacks against a Wake Forest offensive line that ranks in the bottom half in the ACC in sacks allowed. On offense, Pickett and Addison will continue to dominate. But Pickett will have to stay vigilant, as the Demon Deacon defense ranks No. 3 in the ACC in interceptions. 

Pitt wins 42-35 // Alexander Ganias, Staff Writer

Wake has the statistically better offense, but by the slimmest of margins. Pitt has the statistically better defense — and by a much wider margin. This is a similar situation to the Virginia game on Nov. 20, and that turned out favorably for the Panthers. The Pitt defense will have to consistently pressure the Wake offense throughout the game if it wants to win.

Pitt wins 35-28 // Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

While both teams average more than 40 points a game, the defenses will be the X-factor in this game. Both Pickett and Hartman have been more turnover prone in the month of November. But with Pitt’s run game and Addison, a Biletnikoff finalist, Pitt has the edge in what could be an overtime thriller.

Pitt wins 44-40 // Christopher Cornejo, For The Pitt News

A chaotic season for the ACC is culminating in a showdown between conference rivals. The matchup will more than likely result in a shootout between the two exceptionally strong offenses, with the Panthers ranked No. 4 nationally in total offense and the No. 9 ranked Demon Deacon offense.

Pitt wins 38-34 // Jack Markowski, Staff Writer

While both sides boast a potent passing attack, expect this game to be won on the ground. The Panthers come into the ACC Championship with one of the best rush defenses in the nation, while Wake Forest enters with one of the worst. Expect both teams to be incredibly successful through the air, but the advantage in the trenches will lead Pitt to victory.