Both of these teams were red-hot heading into the final week of November, before cooling off in the final weeks. North Carolina reversed the fortunes of its season after upsetting Virginia Tech 20-17 in Blacksburg, also beating Miami and Duke in the following weeks.
Pittsburgh was 9-1 entering its game with West Virginia, before losing to the Mountaineers on the final play of the game. The heartbreak wasn’t over for the Panthers, who blew a 21-point lead to lose in the final minute against Cincinnati in a game that decided the Big East championship.
Player to watch:
Robert Quinn was overshadowed in the ACC this season by other big-name defensive ends like Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech), Jason Worilds (Virginia Tech), and Ricky Sapp (Clemson). Quinn may be the best of the bunch, however, and will soon be playing on Sundays. Expect Quinn to make a big statement in the season finale.
Also worth watching is Pitt’s super-freshman Dion Lewis. The Panther running back toted the ball 47 times in the loss to Cincinnati for nearly 200 yards. The Tar Heel defense is one of the most underrated in the country, and stopping Lewis will be its primary objective for this game.
Who has the edge?
North Carolina’s defense might be one of the few in America capable of containing Lewis. Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine the Panthers being excited to play in this game, when they were 30 seconds from playing in the school’s second-ever BCS bowl game. The Tar Heels would love the opportunity to finish the year 9-4 after such a slow start.
Prediction: North Carolina 23, Pittsburgh 21