It’s a prime-time showdown for North Carolina on Thursday night, as the Tar Heels take on 25th ranked Pitt at Heinz Field. Kick-off is set for 7:30 on WBT.
The Tar Heels (5-4, 3-3 ACC) are coming off a big win over previously unbeaten Wake Forest, Pitt has been one of the surprise teams of the ACC, they’re sitting at 7-2 on the year, 4-1 in the conference. That puts them in the drivers seat to nab the Coastal Division title.
The Panthers have one of the most explosive offenses in the country, they lead the nation in scoring at 45 points per game. They’ve got a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Kenny Pickett. The senior ranks fifth nationally with 3,171 passing yards and his 29 passing touchdowns ranks third in the country. And perhaps most impressive – he’s only thrown three interceptions. Jordan Addison is his top target with nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Pitt has a trio of excellent running backs led by sophomore Israel Abanikanda, he has 498 yards and five scores. They’ll no doubt stress the Tar Heel defense that continues to struggle. They rank next to last in the ACC allowing over 33 points a game.
The good news is, UNC can put up just as many points as Pitt. They put up 58 against Wake last week, and if quarterback Sam Howell gets hot again – look out. The junior has also become a major threat on the ground, rushing for 699 yards and eight touchdowns. He forms a potent 1-2 punch with running back Ty Chandler, who had a career day against Wake last week and has 13 touchdowns. They’ll face a Pitt defense that has a ferocious pass rush, they’ve had three games this season with at least five sacks. They allow just 344 yards and under 23 points per game, but gave up 38 and 29 in their past two contests, so the Tar Heels will have opportunities..
by Sharon Thorsland