Penn State Football: Predictions for the Nittany Lions versus Pitt

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Saquon Barkley /

What does Saturday have in store for Penn State football when the Pitt Panthers come to town?

Penn State took care of business last week and easily handled the Akron Zips by a score of 52-0. The Nittany Lions did exactly what a top team should do — dominate the opponents that are dubbed “inferior.” Up next is a game that’s likely been circled on the calendar for a year.

The Pitt Panthers make their first visit to Beaver Stadium this week for the first time since the 1999 season. They will be looking to upset the Nittany Lions and hand them a second straight loss in the series. Pitt held off a furious Penn State comeback last season to pull out the home win.

Anything can happen in a rivalry game, especially early in the season. Although Pitt gave up a 21-point lead to Youngstown State last week and needed overtime to get the win, Penn State an ill-afford to overlook the Panthers.

After a good opening week, the VBR staff has returned once again to present this week’s fearless predictions for the Nittany Lions and the Panthers.

Barry Leonard, Co-Site Expert

Penn State did what it need to do by blowing out Akron last week and now turns its attention to getting revenge on in-state Pitt. I’m going to make this simple this week — Pitt has a bad defense and an inconsistent offense which will make it extremely difficult to keep pace with the high-flying Nittany Lions.

The Panthers blew a 21-point lead to Youngstown State last week before ultimately winning in overtime. That doesn’t bode well for their confidence heading into a matchup with one of the best teams in the nation.

When firing on all cylinders the Penn State offense is virtually unstoppable. From Trace McSorley, to Saquon Barkley, to Mike Gesicki, to Juwan Johnson, the options on offense are limitless. Penn State should have no trouble putting up points early and often.

Brent Pry’s defense looked better than expected last week, granted it was against Akron, but the Zips entered Beaver Stadium with a very veteran offense. While I’m not expecting another shutout, I do foresee a second consecutive dominating performance.

Pitt will likely get some points late in the game when all of Penn State’s starters are resting comfortably on the bench, but it will prove too little too late. Penn State sends Pitt a message in this one and remains undefeated for the young season.

Penn State 40
Pitt 14

Marty Leap, Contributor

Saturday is a day that Penn State football players and fans alike have waited 364 days for – the rematch with Pitt. Despite decisively outplaying the Panthers in the second half last year the Nittany Lions lost a heartbreaker to the Panthers by a score of 42-39. This time, however, things should go much differently as Penn State is a much more talented team than Pitt.

Penn State enters this game ranked fourth in the nation with one of the best offenses in FBS. Meanwhile, Pitt is coming off being outplayed by FCS Youngstown State and needing overtime to beat the Penguins last week.

The Panthers had one of the worst defenses of any Power 5 school last season. Since then they have lost multiple starters to graduation, two are suspended for this game, and one has been thrown off the team. The Nittany Lion offense should run wild over the Panther defense on Saturday. Youngstown State put up over 400 yards of total offense on the Panthers last week, so just imagine what Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley, and company will do on Saturday.

As for Pitt’s offense, Adam Bisnowaty, Dorian Johnson, James Connor, Nathan Peterman, and Scott Orndorff are all gone to the NFL. This leaves the Panthers hanging their hopes on a poor offensive line, a bad quarterback in Max Browne, and Quadree Henderson. Basically, Pitt’s offense is get the ball to Henderson and pray.

On top of Penn State having a massive advantage in talent, the Nittany Lions also have a big chip on their shoulder. After what happened last year you better believe the Nittany Lions want to pound the Panthers into oblivion, and that is exactly what will happen on Saturday. Don’t be surprised if James Franklin keeps the pedal on the floor for awhile on Saturday.

Penn State 49

Pitt 14

Corey Hunter, Contributor 

Apparently Pitt and Penn State view Saturday’s rivalry game through different lenses. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi declares a media blackout and tries to tell anyone who listens that Penn State and Pitt is major rivalry game. On the other hand, Penn State head coach James Franklin sees the contest as game two on the schedule; a chance to be 1-0 for the week.

Last week the Nittany Lions could virtually do no wrong against Akron while Pitt struggled mightily with Youngstown State. I have no doubt Penn State will get Pitt’s best shot, but the Lions just have too much skill for the Panthers to win if Penn State plays anywhere close to what they did on Saturday.

Look for Saquon Barkley to once again climb above the century-mark in rushing yards and senior wideout DaeSean Hamilton will quietly have a tremendous game gaining a small measure of revenge for his late drop in last season’s contest.

The Penn State defense will yield some points this week though not nearly enough for Pitt to pull off the upset. Penn State will use the crowd to force Pitt into some untimely errors. In the end, Penn State walks away in a romp.

Penn State- 49
Pitt- 21

Joe Ciminera, Contributor

There is an old saying that goes “we may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.” I’m not sure how fitting this quote is for the Pitt/Penn State rematch this Saturday, but it felt right.

The past, of course, being Pitt’s 42-39 victory in which they ground Penn State’s defense to dust last season, amassing 341 rushing yards at Heinz Field. Since that loss, Penn State has attempted to put those past demons to bed through a breakout season, several All-Americans, and a running back atop the Heisman watch.

But is the past really not through with Penn State? Will Pitt be able to win this bitter in-state rivalry for a second straight year? Nah.

The Penn State of the present is much better than the Penn State of the past. Pitt lost several key players on both sides of the ball from last years team which beat Penn State and then shocked Clemson, while Penn State has shown vast improvements.

How will Pitt overcome these losses? Don’t ask their players or coaches, head man Pat Narduzzi has muzzled them, not allowing anyone to speak with the media leading up to the bout.

Despite his childish gamesmanship, I anticipate Narduzzi having his team at least ready to compete. That being said, Penn State will roll. Look for a monster game from Saquan Barkley and Pitt to be silenced…for the second time this week.

Penn State 38
Pitt 17

Shane Lunnen, Contributor 

After a domination of Akron this past Saturday, the Nittany Lions welcome Pitt to Beaver Stadium for the first time since 1999. I’ve been looking forward to this one since last year’s disappointing, but entertaining loss at Heinz Field.

After giving up 311 passing yards to Youngstown State in their overtime win last Saturday, Pitt certainly has a challenge defensively this week. They will attempt to contain Trace McSorley without their best defensive player, safety Jordan Whitehead. It is pick your poison because of Saquon Barkley. Most teams choose to key on Barkley, but then McSorley and the receivers will go to work. After what we saw last week versus Akron, don’t be surprised if backup Tommy Stevens gets in the action as well with 2 quarterback sets.  This offense is way different than it was a year ago in Pittsburgh.

Pitt’s offense may have a little more success than their defense. It’s also different than the one that beat the Lions a year ago, but still with some playmakers. Wide receiver Quadree Henderson is back and he is quite dynamic in both the passing game and returning kicks. Not sure of the status of Panther running back Qadree Ollison after being injured last week, but if he plays he’ll be a player that the Lions must contain. The Lion defense played very well last week in the shutout, but must be ready for anything Pitt will throw at them.

I would love to say Penn State by 60. The Lions are clearly the superior team this year and should win this one comfortably. However, I don’t think Pitt is going to roll over and die. This is a rivalry game and they want it just as much as Penn State does.  A different team, but don’t forget last year Pitt was heavy underdogs at Clemson and pulled the upset. I expect the Panthers to come out fired up and give Penn State their best in the first half.

In the end, the Penn State offense is too dynamic and too talented to let this one slip by them.  Barkley adds another 150 yards and 3 touchdowns to his stats. McSorley adds 2 more touchdowns through the air and the Lions pull away in the second half, revenging last year’s loss. Put the score on a keychain!

Penn State 45
Pitt 17