No. 21 Pitt looks for rare 3-0 start vs. No. 24 Louisville

NCAA Football

No. 21 Pitt looks for rare 3-0 start vs. No. 24 Louisville

A pair of top-25 programs clash on Saturday afternoon when No. 24 Louisville visits No. 21 Pittsburgh in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup at Heinz Field.

The Panthers (2-0, 1-0 ACC) get their third straight home game to open the season after wins over Austin Peay and Syracuse. They look to go 3-0 to start a season for the first time since 2014.

Pitt held the Orange to only 170 yards of total offense, their defense leading the way with the offense losing two turnovers and missing three field goals in the 21-10 win.

“I still think the best football is ahead of us. I don’t think our kids are particularly happy as well after just watching the tape, seeing the situations we put ourselves in,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said Monday. “That game could have very well been 30-zip or 42-zip.”

Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett is in his third year as the starter, but it’s the Panthers defense that has shined the most through two wins. Pitt allows only 26 rushing yards per game after two games, the top-ranked rushing defense in the nation.

Overall, the Panthers have the third-best defense in the nation in terms of yards allowed, at 154 per game.

Louisville (1-1, 0-1 ACC) looks to right itself after a 47-34 loss at home to then-No. 17 Miami, which dropped the Cardinals from No. 18 to No. 24 this week. The Cardinals play their first road game of the season at Pitt.

Louisville’s defense gave up several big plays against the Hurricanes last Saturday, a fact not lost on coach Scott Satterfield. But he took a number of questions on the Pitt defense this week in looking ahead toward Saturday’s game.

“They keep it pretty simple, what they do,” Satterfield said of the Pitt defense. “They’re going to put pressure on your offensive line with those (front) four. They’re very aggressive. The linebackers are downhill. It’s not complicated, but they’re very good at what they do.”

Junior Malik Cunningham threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns with an interception last weekend against the Hurricanes. Two of those went to wide receiver Tutu Atwell, who caught eight passes for 114 yards.

Atwell had 69 catches for 1,272 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Running back Javian Hawkins rushed for 164 yards against Miami, on 27 carries.

Pitt leads the overall series between the two teams 9-8, which includes a 45-34 win over the Cardinals in Pittsburgh in 2015. The Panthers, who will don black, silver and gold uniforms and helmets that pay homage to the steel industry and its history in Pittsburgh, are 6-5 all-time against the Cardinals at home.

–Field Level Media

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