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King of the Hill: ACC Football Power Rankings (Week 8)

Here are the most recent rankings after this week's ACC action. This past weekend, may teams, including the Panthers, were on bye weeks. But there were still several games, so as usual, we've got movement.

One thing to note is that while North Carolina State and Virginia both suffered some ugly losses, they didn't fall in the standings since they beat the two teams ranking right behind them in head-to-head matchups. Pitt had a chance to move up a spot but with the Hokies looking so impressive against Miami, they deserved to leapfrog the Panthers.

The previous week’s rankings are in parentheses and as always, let me know what I got right/wrong in the comments.

  1. Clemson (1) / 7-0: On a bye week
  2. Louisville (2) / 6-1: Dominated North Carolina State, 54-13
  3. North Carolina (3) 6-2: After a slow start, pulled away for a 35-21 win against Virginia
  4. Florida State (4) / 5-2: On a bye week
  5. Virginia Tech (7) / 5-2: Impressive 37-16 win over Miami
  6. Pitt (6) / 5-2: On a bye week
  7. Miami (5) / 4-3: Lost to Virginia Tech
  8. North Carolina State (8) / 4-3: Ugly loss to Louisville but remain ahead at No. 8
  9. Wake Forest (9) / 5-2: On a bye week
  10. Georgia Tech (10) / 4-3: On a bye week
  11. Syracuse (11) / 4-4: 28-20 win over Boston College
  12. Virginia (12) / 2-5: Lost to North Carolina
  13. Duke (13) / 3-4: On a bye week
  14. Boston College (14) / 3-4: Lost to Syracuse
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Weekly Kickoff: Pitt to be tested by Virginia Tech defense

After a week off, Pitt hits the ground running with a Thursday night game against Virginia Tech.

The Hokies have grabbed quite a bit of attention after all of the talk had mostly been around Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State. After pounding North Carolina 34-3, they did have a head-scratcher in losing on the road to Syracuse. But after crushing Miami this week, 37-16, it's safe to say that they're mostly for real.

Virginia Tech, of course, isn't elite. With that loss to Syracuse and an early-season 45-24 rout to Tennessee, it's clear that they're not a Top 10 team. But this is going to be a great test for Pitt, who is still trying to figure out exactly where they are in the ACC hierarchy, too.

The Hokies are solid on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they've scored about 36 points - only a hair less than Pitt. Like the Panthers, Virginia Tech doesn't make a lot of mistakes at quarterback. Jerod Evans has 19 touchdowns against only two interceptions and he leads the entire ACC in passing efficiency. Evans, in fact, is in the top ten in the nation in that category, so don't expect him to make a ton of mistakes. He will also get out and run a little. Evans is second on the team in rushing with 417 yards.

In other words, not a great thing to see.

Defensively, though, is where Virginia Tech really makes their mark. The Hokies are 11th in the nation, allowing only about 300 yards per game, and they are 16th in scoring defense giving up just 18 points per game. Pitt's offense has mostly done what they wanted this year, so that's going to be a great matchup to watch. What the Panthers want to do is run the ball, but that's where the Hokies excel, ranking 11th in the nation there, too, allowing just over 100 yards per game.

Throwing against Virginia Tech is no picnic, either. Linebacker Terrell Edmunds and defensive back Greg Stroman are tied for second in the ACC with three interceptions. Overall, the team ranks 32nd in the nation allowing just under 200 passing yards per game. Because of what they do on defense, it will be interesting see how Pitt's run/pass balance shakes out.

One specific area where the Hokies stand out is on third down and if you're looking for a key to the game, that might be it. Virginia Tech is fifth in the nation in third-down efficiency on defense with teams converting those for first downs less than 25% of the time.

All of that sounds pretty difficult, obviously. But don't count the Panthers out just yet. For whatever reason, the Panthers always hang with Virginia Tech for the most part. That's no reason to expect Pitt to play well in any given year, but it's just been one of those things. More importantly, Pitt gets the game at home and on a Thursday night, should have a pretty good atmosphere if the weather holds out.

One more thing, too. While they haven't faced a team as good as Virginia Tech defensively, I still expect them to score points. Georgia Tech is a Top 30 defensive team and the Panthers scored 37 points. Outside of that, Pitt hasn't really been tested by great defensive squads, but I still believe this is an offense that will score against just about anyone. As usual, the question will be how they can slow down a decent passing attack.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Ohio State vs. Penn State

Pitt link dump and college football open thread

Had sort of a hectic week so Pitt's bye came at just the right time for me. The Panthers are off today but I wanted to throw up an open thread, anyway, since I imagine many of you will be watching other games.

Also today is the basketball team's open scrimmage up at The Pete. Like I mentioned earlier, it's a great idea to give fans something to do with the football team off.

The next game for Pitt is obviously a big one. And Virginia Tech has looked terribly impressive this year. Short of an unlikely two-touchdown loss to Syracuse and the loss to Tennessee earlier this year, they've dominated everybody else, including North Carolina and last week, Miami.

A few other quick hitters related to Pitt this week:

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Dayton Flyers: Best Darrell Davis photos

Pitt Recruiting: Donovan Jeter de-commits from Notre Dame

A local standout reopens his recruitment

After praying and thinking about it I've decided to decommit from Norte dame but they are still my top school. I am opening my recruitment — Donovan Jeter (@__5god__) October 18, 2016

Earlier today, four-star Donovan Jeter announced he is no longer committed to Notre Dame. This is a pretty notable action for Pitt’s recruiting efforts. Donovan Jeter is a 6’5” 255 Defensive End/Tackle. He is rated as a four-star by all four major recruiting, and was considered to be one of Pitt’s highest priority recruits until he committed Notre Dame last month.

His commitment to Notre Dame was a bit shocking, truth be told. He was widely considered a Pitt lean by many for a variety of reasons. His brother is Sheldon Jeter, a senior on the basketball team. He is from nearby Beaver Falls High School in Beaver County, an area that has been considered a pipeline. Perhaps most importantly, he generally spoke highly of Pitt and Pat Narduzzi, especially in the months leading up to his Notre Dame decision.

Obviously Jeter reopening his recruitment should get Pitt fans on notice. I’m not sure it is a slam dunk to Pitt, though. His offer sheet is as impressive as it gets. He holds offers from schools like Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State. In fact, he announced via Twitter today that Oklahoma had offered him. So obviously, the competition for Jeter will be pretty fierce. He also said on Twitter that Notre Dame is still in the mix as well.

It’s hard to say what will happen in the recruitment of Donovan Jeter from here on out, but it’s one worth monitoring. Jeter is one of the best players in the state and country for that matter, and Pitt had prioritized before, and knowing he’s back on the market he will be highly prioritized once again.

Cardiac Hill welcomes a new contributor in photographer Matt Hawley

Hi everyone, my name is Matt Hawley. I am a senior at the University of Pittsburgh and I hope to be attending Katz Graduate School of Business here in the spring. Recently for Cardiac Hill, I covered the Georgia Tech/Homecoming game with this photo gallery. I'll be shooting other events for the site on occasion as opportunities present themselves.

I currently work as a staff photographer with The Pitt News and I have also freelanced with Panther Lair recently. I am a student manager with the women’s basketball team and I am also one of the current leaders of the Panther Pitt, so I am very actively involved with sports on campus.

I grew up in a small city outside of York, PA. I wasn’t really a fan of any specific collegiate team growing up, but I still enjoyed watching college basketball and football. Pitt was the only school I applied to in 2013, and from that point on I became a huge Pitt fan. Through my few years here I have come to love this University and city. While there have been some heartbreaking losses in basketball and football recently, I have gotten to enjoy some incredible experiences.

In my junior year I started working with The Pitt News as a staff photographer and my love of photography grew. Sports are one of my main passions in life and I chose to combine that with my love of photography. I began shooting Pitt sports such as baseball and soccer. Once I started making more connections, I have now shot some high profile events such as Pitt basketball/football, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, two Pirates games, Steelers training camp, and two Steelers games so far.

I’m not really sure if I want to try and do sports photography full time, but I definitely want to be involved in a collegiate or professional sports team in some fashion. In the meantime, I’ll occasionally be contributing photo galleries to this site while hopefully obtaining my MBA here at Pitt. Please feel free to check out my Twitter and Instagram, both @MattHawleyPhoto.

Jordan Whitehead, Quadree Henderson win weekly ACC awards

Following Pitt's win against Virginia on Saturday, two players won weekly awards from the ACC - Jordan Whitehead and Quadree Henderson.

Whitehead secured the Defensive Player of the Week award and Henderson was the Specialist of the Week.

Whitehead no doubt won the award after his big play that changed the complexion of the game. With things tied just before halftime, the Pitt safety grabbed an interception and returned it back for a touchdown to give the Panthers the lead. He also had four tackles on the day and even made some plays on offense, running for 28 yards.

Henderson had a huge kickoff return for a touchdown as well as a key punt return. That, of course, was in addition to his regular work on the offense as a wide receiver. For the first time this year, he didn't record a catch. He did have a run that went for six yards, but most of his damage was done on special teams.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

King of the Hill: ACC Football Power Rankings (Week 7)

Here are the most recent rankings after this week's ACC action. We're starting to settle in a little here. There's movement, but the top half of the conference is mostly separated out from the second half at this point. There's a chance for the Wolfpack to move up and maybe a team like Pitt or Virginia Tech moves down.

The big move up this week comes from North Carolina after they beat Miami. They climbed three spots after Virginia Tech threw everything out of whack with an upset loss to Syracuse. They own a head-to-head win over the Tar Heels but North Carolina had to be ranked higher since they beat Florida State, just had the big Miami win, and the Hokies suffered an ugly loss. And as a result, Syracuse climbed several spots and out of the basement with the Virginia Tech win.

Locally, Pitt moves up a spot with their win over Virginia. Hard to put them any higher than No. 6 right now and, obviously, teams like Virginia Tech and North Carolina State could prove to be better teams.

The previous week’s rankings are in parentheses and as always, let me know what I got right/wrong in the comments.

  1. Clemson (1) / 7-0: Wasn't easy, but Clemson pulled out a 24-17 win over North Carolina State
  2. Louisville (2) / 5-1: Also not easy, but Louisville beat Duke, 24-14
  3. North Carolina (6) 5-2: Beat Miami on road in big 20-13 win
  4. Florida State (3) / 5-2: Sensing a theme here? Not easy, but beat Wake Forest, 17-6
  5. Miami (4) / 4-2: Down a spot after loss to North Carolina
  6. Pitt (7) / 5-2: Up a spot after 45-31 win over Virginia
  7. Virginia Tech (5) / 4-2: Upset by Syracuse, 31-17
  8. North Carolina State (8) / 4-2: Played well in relatively close loss to Clemson
  9. Wake Forest (9) / 5-2: Hold steady at No. 9 after decent showing against Seminoles
  10. Georgia Tech (10) / 4-3: 35-24 win over Georgia Southern
  11. Syracuse (14) / 3-4: Out of basement with win over Hokies
  12. Virginia (11) / 2-4: Down a spot with Pitt loss
  13. Duke (12) / 3-4: Down a spot with loss to Cardinals and Syracuse win
  14. Boston College (13) / 3-3: We have a new basement team after the Eagles' idle week
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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