The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Preview | Struggling Pitt football prepares for a matchup against juggernaut No. 4 Florida State

Pitts+football+team+and+head+coach+Pat+Narduzzi+run+onto+the+field+for+the+first+game+of+the+season+against+Wofford+at+Acrisure+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+2.+
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Pitt’s football team and head coach Pat Narduzzi run onto the field for the first game of the season against Wofford at Acrisure Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Pitt football is in dire straits right now. The team is 2-6 and looking to turn the page after a humiliating 58-7 loss to No. 12 Notre Dame. They need to win all four of their remaining matchups if they want to finish .500 and play in a bowl game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, their next game is against one of the best football teams in the country — No. 4 Florida State. 

Florida State isn’t just a better football team than Pitt, they also have more to lose if they don’t win out. Sitting at the top of the ACC with an 8-0 record, the Seminoles are strong contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoffs. This will mark their first playoff appearance since the 2014 season — the first year that the NCAA implemented a four-team playoff bracket.

While the lopsided final score may not indicate it, Pitt’s defense played decently against the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame scored 30 of their 58 points by capitalizing on mistakes or turnovers courtesy of Pitt’s offense and special teams. 

Panthers junior defensive back Phillip O’Brien Jr. and redshirt senior linebacker both recorded interceptions early in the game, successfully stifling the Irish’s first two drives. On Notre Dame’s third possession, Pitt’s defense forced a turnover on downs. Pitt’s offense failed to capitalize on any of these turnovers. 

Pitt redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Veilleux played well in his first two starts but struggled mightily against Notre Dame last week, finishing the game with 127 passing yards and four interceptions. Now Vielleux faces the unenviable task of bouncing back from a rough game by playing against one of the best defenses in college football.

While Vielleux struggled to get anything going through the air against Notre Dame, Pitt’s running backs were similarly ineffective on the ground. Junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. led the team with 31 rushing yards, garnering most of the team’s 53 total rushing yards. 

Florida State’s passing defense absolutely dominated opposing offenses in the month of October. In their past four games, the Seminoles’ defense allowed less than 140 passing yards per game and zero total passing touchdowns. 

While their defensive backs shut down opposing receivers, the defensive line bullied opposing quarterbacks. Florida State’s dominant pass rush racked up six sacks in their game against Wake Forest last week. Junior defensive lineman Jared Verse and sophomore defensive lineman Patrick Payton recorded two sacks each. 

If Florida State’s defense can maintain its elite level of play going into Saturday’s matchup, they’ll easily overpower Pitt’s injury-plagued offensive line.

Florida State senior quarterback Jordan Travis is playing dominantly so far this season, throwing for 18 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi commended Travis for his leadership and command over Florida State’s offense.

“[Travis] is playing at a high level,” Narduzzi said. “The guy doesn’t make mistakes. And he’s confident. The guy plays with swagger too. He is the leader of that football team, guaranteed.”

Narduzzi received significant pushback for comments he made directly following the blowout loss to Notre Dame, in which he attributed the team’s struggles to their inability to effectively replace key playmakers from last season.

“As a football coach you lose a lot of good players a year ago and you think as a coach you’re going to replace them,” Narduzzi said. “We obviously haven’t. Again it starts with me and I didn’t do a good enough job coaching today.”

Narduzzi later retracted the comments and apologized to the team, ultimately posting on X that he was “100% responsible” for the loss. He continued the apology tour at his press conference on Monday — attempting to soothe the ravenous sports media industrial complex, whose business model relies on juicy, out-of-context soundbites made by exhausted head coaches.

It doesn’t matter who is responsible for last week’s loss, all that matters are the games ahead. Despite Pitt’s struggles, Veilleux insists that the team’s not done fighting yet.

“It’s November, we got four games left,” Veilleux said. “Nobody’s ready to quit yet and I don’t think we’re gonna be ready to quit until we have nothing left to give.”

The Panthers will play against Florida State at Acrisure Stadium on Nov. 4. Kickoff is set for 3:30 and coverage will air on ESPN.

About the Contributor
Ben Pisano, Staff Writer