The Panthers came into day three of the NCAA 2014 simulation of their 2018 season 6-0 and ranked number three in the nation. After suffering tough losses to then number 11 Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, Pitt left day three 7-2 and ranked 12th in the country. I am going to give recap each game, tell you what players were key, what players were detrimental and the likelihoods of Pitt making a conference championship or a national championship.
#11 Virginia Tech 20, #3 Pitt 17
Coming into a matchup with #11 Virginia Tech undefeated and ranked number three in the nation the Panthers had a lot on the line. The Hokies started the scoring early as they got up 7-0 via a four-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Panthers would answer back just a little over a minute later and tie the game at seven after Kenny Pickett connected with Tyler Sears for a 40-yard touchdown.
Going into the second quarter, it was still tied at seven. Virginia Tech would start off the scoring in the second quarter with a two-yard touchdown run to put them ahead 14-7. Pitt cut the lead to four – via a Alex Kessman 34-yard field goal – with 2:35 remaining in the second quarter. The Hokies would hit a 33-yard field goal to make it a 17-10 game heading to halftime.
There would be no more offense until there was 9:54 left in the fourth quarter and Pickett tied the game at 17 with a 57 yard touchdown run. Tied at 17 with 1:08 left in the game, Virginia Tech hit a 35-yard field goal to give them a 20-17 lead. There weren’t any last minute heroics and the score would hold. The Panthers would lose their first game of the season 20-17.
Pickett had a rough game as he completed nine of 22 passes for 102 yards, a touchdown and a interception. He would also rush for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Those numbers led the team in rushing as Darrin Hall came in second with 44 yards on 10 carries. It was Hall’s second game of the year without a rushing touchdown.
Tyler Sear led the receiving unit with three receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown. For the first time this season, the defense didn’t come away with an interception or a turnover which played a large role in the loss.
The 20-17 loss would drop the Panthers to number 10 in the nation and 6-1 on the season.
WEEKS EIGHT & NINE:
Georgia Tech 24, #10 Pitt 21
After losing their first game of the season and having two bye weeks in between, the Panthers lost not only their second game of the year but, there second straight game.
Georgia Tech jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The game would stay 7-0 until the third quarter when Georgia Tech would score another rushing touchdown to make it 14-0. Pitt would finally put up their first touchdown to make it 14-7 with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter via a 21-yard Kenny Pickett touchdown pass to Shocky Jacques-Louis.
Georgia Tech would answer back on their next possession and make it a 21-7 game. The Panthers would then go on to score 14 unanswered points – a 34-yard Pickett touchdown pass to Aaron Mathews and a Pickett four-yard touchdown run – to tie the game up at 21 with 8:28 remaining in the game. Then with the clock ticking down, Georgia Tech would hit a 22-yard field goal to win the game 24-21 in the final seconds.
Despite the loss, Pickett played a great game as he completed 16 of 27 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He added on a rushing touchdown. Darrin Hall had another bad game as he didn’t score a touchdown for the third time this season and the second straight game. Hall would only rush for 77 yards on 17 carries.
After coming back from injury and only having three receptions against Virginia Tech, Shocky Jacques-Louis became a big target once again. Jacques-Louis finished the game with seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Mathews also hauled in a touchdown.
For the second time this season and the second straight game the defense wasn’t able to come away with an interception. They were able to come away with a turnover as Elijah Zeise recovered a fumble. Saleem Brightwell played a great game as he finished with 16 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
The 24-21 upset would push the Panthers back to 6-2 on the season and #17 in the country.
#17 Pitt 26, #8 Notre Dame 21
Coming off of two straight losses, the Panthers were able to end the losing streak and come away with a huge win over a top-ten opponent. Darrin Hall kicked off the scoring in the first quarter as he rushed for a five-yard touchdown. The game would stay 7-0, until the beginning of the second quarter when Alex Kessman kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
Notre Dame would drive down the field and cut down the Panthers lead to 10-7. Hall would rush for his second touchdown of the game to extend the lead to 17-7. With seconds on the clock at the end of the first half, Kessman hit a 31-yard field goal to make it 20-7 heading to halftime.
Kessman would kick off the scoring in the second half as he kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it a 23-7 game. Notre Dame would answer back and cut the lead down to 23-14 heading into the final quarter of play. Kessman would start off the fourth quarter with a 32-yard field goal to make it 26-14. The Fighting Irish were able to put up one more touchdown, but, the Pitt defense did enough to hold on to a 26-21 win.
Pickett played a below average game, completing 12 of 25 passes for 175 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. Luckily, Hall picked up his slack as he finally got out of his slump and had a multi-touchdown game. Hall rushed for two touchdowns and 73 yards on 18 carries.
Tyler Sear and Shocky Jacques-Louis led the receiving unit. Sear finished the game with three receptions for 52 yards, while Jacques-Louis finished with three receptions for 65 yards.
Defensively, the Panthers got back to themselves and it was a key reason to the win. As a team, the Panthers picked off three passes. Dane Jackson, Elijah Zeise and Bricen Garner each had an interception.
The win helped move the Panthers to 7-2 and #9 in the nation.
ACC Championship Odds
Below is how the conference is looking as of right now.
As you can tell the only way the Panthers could make a conference championship is if Virginia Tech were to lose three conference games. Unfortunately, the Hokies only have two conference games remaining, which leaves the Panthers with zero chance of taking the Coastal crown.
National Championship Odds
Below is how the BCS standings are looking as of right now.
The Panthers are ranked number nine in the nation and only need to jump up seven more spots to make a national championship (it’s 2014 so there is no CFB playoff on the game). As you can tell, every team ahead of them has one loss, besides for FAU. If enough teams lose their second game of the season and the Panthers win their last three, there will be a chance for Pitt to be in national title talks. This will definitely be a storyline to watch out for.
I am going to go through the team leaders. All of these guys have been a key to the Panthers success when they have been winning. On the contrary, when they have played bad there haven’t been many other guys picking up the slack. Which is what ultimately led to the two losses.
112-227, 1462 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and seven interceptions
144 carries, 701 yards (4.9 avg.), nine touchdowns, 77.9 yards per game
29 receptions, 350 yards (12.1 avg.), five touchdowns, 50 yards per game
TACKLES FOR LOSS
12 tackles for loss
Oluwaseun Idowu & Elijah Zeise tied
I will release an article every day recapping the three weeks simulated the day after they are simulated. If you go to @armchairpitt on twitter, you can get live updates on how the games go as soon as they are simulated. Games ten to twelve will be getting simulated later today. These games will include UNC, Syracuse, and Miami.