Pittsburgh (3-2) at Virginia (3-2) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Scott Stadium (61,500) — Charlottesville, Virginia.
Television: RSN. Home Record: Pittsburgh 1-2, Virginia 3-1. Away Record:
Pittsburgh 2-0, Virginia 0-1. Neutral Record: Pittsburgh 0-0, Virginia 0-0.
Conference Record: Pittsburgh 1-0, Virginia 1-0. Series Record: Pittsburgh
leads, 4-2.

GAME NOTES: Coming off a resounding win against Mid-American Conference
opponent Kent State, the Virginia Cavaliers will try to keep the momentum
going when they host the Pittsburgh Panthers in an Atlantic Coast Conference
battle at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.

Pittsburgh was also in action against a MAC program last Saturday, but the
Panthers weren’t as fortunate as Virginia, as they were downed by Akron,
21-10, at home. The Panthers, who usually get a significant contribution from
the run game (namely James Conner) were shut down offensively in the loss.

Virginia, on the other hand, was not. The Cavaliers posted 45 points against
Kent State in the 45-13 victory, which served as a rebound win for Virginia
after losing to BYU two weekends ago. The Cavaliers are 3-1 at home this
season, and will look to use that to their advantage against Pittsburgh, which
has lost two straight.

These two teams met on the field last season, which resulted in a 14-3
Pittsburgh win. Prior to last year’s matchup, the programs had last played in
the 2007 campaign. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series over the Cavaliers,

The Panthers struck first in the loss last Saturday to Akron, but the lead
would not last long. The Panthers rushed for just 129 yards in the game, which
is the lowest total in a single contest this season. Conner carried the ball
25 times for a team-high 92 yards, and didn’t score a touchdown for the first
time all season. The offense still averages 269.4 rushing ypg, and Conner
still produces 158.2 ypg for which Virginia will have to account.

Quarterback Chad Voytik and Manasseh Garner accounted for Pittsburgh’s only
touchdown against Akron, when Voytik found the receiver for an eight-yard
completion. Voytik finished the game with 220 yards, a touchdown and an
interception, bringing his season stats to 754 passing yards with six
touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s averaging 150.8 passing ypg.

Garner’s touchdown reception proved to be just the second this season not
caught by Tyler Boyd. Voytik’s top option through the air has been Boyd, who
has 27 receptions for 365 yards and four scores through the first five games.
He caught a team-best six passes for 72 yards last weekend. Through the air,
the Panthers are averaging just 154.8 passing ypg entering the matchup with

Defensively, the Panthers are holding opponents to a mere 18 ppg and just
265.2 total offensive ypg. The most points surrendered by Pitt this season in
a single game was 25 to FIU, but the Panthers still easily took the win,
42-25. Even in the team’s last two losses, Pitt has allowed just 24 and 21
points, respectively.

Keeping Virginia’s offense down won’t be an easy task, though. Linebacker
Anthony Gonzalez, who leads the team with 31 tackles and is tied for the team
lead with two tackles for loss, will be tasked with trying to limit a Virginia
passing attack that averages 248.2 passing ypg. Both Terrish Webb and Ray
Vinopal have notched two interceptions each through five games played.

It’ll be a challenge for Pittsburgh’s defense, considering the Cavaliers have
scored 45 points twice this season, and in the last three games for Virginia,
the team has put up at least 33 points. Matt Johns was a big factor in
Virginia’s win over Kent State last weekend, as the quarterback threw for 227
yards and two touchdowns. He added five carries for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Between Johns and Greyson Lambert, the Virginia passing attack has accounted
for eight touchdowns and 1,158 yards through five games.

The team’s rushing attack is a bit of a multi-headed monster this season, with
the Cavaliers registering nine touchdowns on the ground already. Kevin Parks
leads the team with 258 yards on 75 carries (51.6 ypg) and a pair of
touchdowns, while Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd have toted the ball 39
and 36 times, respectively, for a combined three touchdowns. As a unit, the
Cavaliers average 167.4 rushing ypg.

Pittsburgh will want to focus on receiver Canaan Severin this weekend, who
leads Virginia with 20 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns. He was at
the top of the stat sheet last weekend with a five-catch, 60-yard performance
against Kent State. Whether it’s Johns or Lambert under center, both will be
looking to Severin first.

Virginia’s 33.2 ppg average offensively is enough to bury a handful of
opponents alone, but the team’s defense has been playing at an above-average
pace, surrendering 23.2 ppg through five games to complement the other side of
the ball. The Cavaliers are especially effective in slowing the run game,
allowing a mere 86.6 rushing ypg with a 2.6 ypc line to the team’s opposition.

That should come in handy against Conner, who should be able to bounce back
from an off week by his standards. Quin Blanding leads the team with 46
tackles, but Daquan Romero, Henry Coley and Eli Harold might be the ones to
key on Conner. The three players have a combined 21.5 tackles for loss and
12.5 sacks total through the first five games.

As long as Virginia can shut down Conner with the ball in his hands, the team
should be fine. If Akron can limit Pittsburgh to 10 points and hold Conner to
fewer than 100 yards on the ground, Virginia should be able to do it as well
with players like Coley, Harold and Max Valles. The Panthers can’t let a stout
defense with the homefield advantage intimidate them.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 34, Pittsburgh 23