With the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division in a wide-open state, Pittsburgh will try to stake its claim as a contender Saturday in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.
Pitt (3-1, 0-0 ACC) brings one of the most prolific offenses in the country with senior quarterback Kenny Pickett threatening to lay waste to the school’s single-season passing record book.
Pickett ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency (195.63), is tied for second in touchdown passes (15), rates fifth in completion percentage (.742) and stands sixth in passing yards (1,342) — all while throwing only one interception in four games.
Together with wide receiver Jordan Addison, who is tied for the national lead in touchdown catches with eight, Pitt is the second-highest scoring team in the country at 52.5 points per game. The Panthers have scored more than 40 points in each of the first four games this season — a first in program history.
“They are really, really good,” Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins said. “(Pickett) just makes plays. He knows where to go with the ball, makes good decisions, and then has a knack for keeping plays alive.”
Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-1 ACC) can’t match the Panthers’ raw offensive output, but the Yellow Jackets have found ways to win and be competitive with defense and a good running game. Georgia Tech is tied for 12th nationally in turnover margin (plus-5) with eight takeaways and just three giveaways, and boasts a top-25 passing defense (169.8 passing yards allowed).
“They are winning that (turnover) war every week, and it’s giving them a chance to win every football game,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said.
The Yellow Jackets opened the season with a home loss to Northern Illinois, but they were competitive with Top 25 opponents each of the past two weeks. After a six-point loss at Clemson, Georgia Tech crushed visiting North Carolina 45-22 last week for the first win over a ranked opponent under Collins.
Freshman quarterback Jeff Sims sparkled against the Tar Heels by accounting for 240 yards and four touchdowns. A strong ground game headed up by Jahmyr Gibbs (249 rushing yards on the season) has given the Yellow Jackets consistency to match the havoc caused by their opportunistic defense.
With North Carolina tagged with two early losses, picking a favorite in the ACC Coastal at this point is difficult. The door is open for Pitt to assume that role, if it can notch a fourth straight win over the Yellow Jackets during a third consecutive trip to Atlanta.
“We’re in position to play Georgia Tech and that’s all that matters,” Narduzzi said. “People talk about Coastal chaos. It’s ACC chaos. It’s college football.”
–Field Level Media