Saturday at 3:30 on ESPN the ‘Noles will be on the road to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The Panthers are 2-6 this season with wins against Wofford and Louisville and losses to Cincinnati, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Notre Dame.
FSU has a losing record all-time versus Pitt with a 4-6 mark. The ‘Noles lost to Pittsburgh in 2020. The last time FSU beat the Panthers was the season opener of 2013 national championship season, a 41-13 drubbing in Pittsburgh.
Observations from the last game
The defensive line was dominant the whole game finishing with 6 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Even when the ‘Noles weren’t able to get to the quarterback they pressured Griffis on most drop backs and only gave up 6 completed passes.
Wake Forest’s game plan was to bring more defenders to the line of scrimmage to slow the run. FSU was down 3 receivers, so it seemed like a good idea, but Jordan Travis torched them. Travis finished the day with 359 yards passing, 4 total touchdowns and had completions to 9 different receivers.
Florida State offense versus Pittsburgh defense
The Pittsburgh defense is very experienced as every starter is at least a redshirt junior except one. They are better against the run (32nd in FBS in opponent’s yards per rush) than they are the pass (63rd in FBS in opponent’s passing yards per game) so I expect FSU will try to spread out the defense. We’ll see if Norvell and offensive coordinator Alex Atkins want to employ this plan again on Saturday.
When trying to get the ball to the receivers Travis will need to watch out for the speedster at cornerback MJ Devonshire, who has 2 interceptions on the season. Other players on the Panthers defense to watch for are safeties Donovan McMillon (65 tackles) and Javon McIntyre and linebacker Shayne Simon (3 sacks).
Florida State defense versus Pittsburgh offense
Christian Veilleux replaced Phil Jurkovec as the starter at quarterback after the Virginia Tech game and the offense was doing marginally better until taking a step back at Notre Dame. Veilleux has thrown for 774 yards but his completion percentage is only 52% and he has 6 interceptions.
Florida State is 18th in the FBS in opponent passing yards per game at 186 due to the constant pressure applied by Jared Verse (4.5 sacks this season) and others and corners Renardo Green, AZ Thomas and Jarrien Jones holding it down in the secondary. With the defense playing like they have, it should be a long day for the Pitt QB. The running game probably won’t do too much as they rank 117th in the FBS with 3.1 yards per rush.
Advantage: Florida State
The ‘Noles defense shuts down the Panthers offense giving Travis and company great field position all game. Eventually the solid Pitt defense gets worn down and the FSU backs take advantage. Florida State 38 Pittsburgh 10.