Pittsburgh secured its first winning regular season since 2010 last week in a victory over Duke. With two winnable home games on the docket followed by a likely bowl appearance, the host Panthers are pointing to their second 10-win season since 1981, but red-hot Louisville, which is bowl-eligible for the 15th time in 18 years, will be no pushover Saturday.
Despite only having 13 seniors, Louisville rebounded from a three-game losing streak to start the season and won its fourth straight game last week with a 38-31 win over Virginia. "I am just really happy with the way our guys kept a good attitude, persevered, practiced real hard," coach Bobby Petrino told reporters this week. "We stuck to our beliefs and didn't change how we believe you should practice and how you should prepare for a game." The Panthers' 31-13 triumph last week snapped a two-game skid and kept them alive for the ACC Coastal Division title. Pittsburgh is 5-1 in league play with two games remaining and trails North Carolina (6-0), which took a 26-19 decision at Pittsburgh on Oct. 29.
TV: 3:45 ET, ESPN News. LINE: Pittsburgh -2
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (6-4, 5-2 ACC): After gaining 117 yards on the ground in a win over Syracuse two weeks back, Brandon Radcliff ran for a career-high 146 yards on 21 carries and tied his personal best with two touchdowns in the win over the Cavaliers. Former starting quarterback Reggie Bonnafon, who is now being used in the backfield and at wide receiver, is fourth on the team in rushing with 162 yards, has seven receptions and even threw a 20-yard TD pass last week when he took a pitch in the backfield. The Cardinals’ defensive front, led by former TCU linebacker and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields (five tackles, three for loss, one sack last week), has surrendered just 56.3 yards on the ground in its last six wins and will be prepared for Pitt’s trio of running backs.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (7-3, 5-1): Freshman Qadree Ollison rushed for 111 of the Panthers’ 268 yards rushing – their most versus an FBS opponent this season - and Nate Peterman threw for three TDs in the throttling of the Blue Devils. Tyler Boyd (69 catches, 700 yards), who has accounted for 42.1 percent of the team’s receptions, finally got some help last week when fellow wideouts Zach Challingsworth and Dontez Ford combined for six catches, 92 yards and two TDs. Freshman safety Jordan Whitehead, who leads the team with 82 tackles and has run eight times for 65 yards and two scores the last two weeks, is a strong candidate for ACC Rookie of the Year.
1. The series, which dates to 1976, is tied 8-8 with the schools splitting 10 games in Pittsburgh.
2. The Panthers’ three losses this season are to a trio of nationally ranked teams with a combined 28-2 record: Notre Dame (9-1); Iowa (10-0); and North Carolina (9-1).
3. Louisville QB Kyle Bolin, who is completing 58.9 percent of his 112 passes with five TDs and three interceptions, is dealing with an undisclosed injury but is expected to play Saturday.
PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 24, Louisville 16