Boston College - Pittsburgh Matchup

Boston College (5-3) will take on the Pitt Panthers (5-2) on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. The Eagles beat Notre Dame 27-25 last week. The Panthers ripped Syracuse 34-14. The winner of Saturday's game will get their sixth victory and thus become bowl-eligible. Here the key statistics:

The Quarterbacks
Quinton Porter -- 58.0% comp, 1,492 yards, 14 TD, 5 INT
Rod Rutherford -- 58.6% comp, 2,029 yards, 24 TD, 4 INT

Top Rushers
Derrick Knight -- 980 yards, 5.3 ypc, 3 TD
  Horace Dodd -- 362 yards, 5.3 ypc, 8 TD
Jawan Walker -- 293 yards, 4.0 ypc, 2 TD
  Brandon Miree -- 248 yards, 4.4, 4 TD

Top Receivers
Grant Adams (WR) -- 24 catches, 379 yards, 2 TD
  Joel Hazard (WR) -- 19 catches, 221 yards, 0 TD
  Dave Kashetta (TE) -- 15 catches, 225 yards, 4 TD
Larry Fitzgerald (WR) -- 53 catches, 1,018 yards, 15 TD
  Kris Wilson (TE) -- 23 catches, 331 yards, 5 TD
  Princell Brokenbrough (WR) -- 18 catches, 371 yards, 5 TD

Top Defenders
Josh Ott (LB) -- 72 tackles
  Brian Flores (LB) -- 66 tackles
  Mattias Kiwanuka (DE) -- 5 sacks, 13 QB hurries
  Will Blackmon (CB) -- 38 tackles, 3 INT, 6 passes broken up
Lewis Moore (MLB) -- 76 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles
  Brian Bennett (OLB) -- 66 tackles, 4 passes broken up
  Claude Harriott (DE) -- 2 sacks, 13 QB hurries
  Shawntae Spencer (CB) -- 34 tackles, 2 INT, 6 passes broken up

The Kickers
Sandro Sciortino -- 7/13 FG, 26/26 PAT
David Abdul -- 6/12 FG, 31/32 PAT

The Punters
Jeff Gomulinsky -- 39.5 yards per kick
Andy Lee -- 45.8 yards per kick

The Kick Returners
Will Blackmon -- 23.6 yds per KO return, 10.0 per punt return
Nat Hasselbeck -- 8.1 per punt return
Terrell Allen -- 17.1 yards per kickoff return
  William Ferguson -- 9.6 yards per punt return

Final Analysis
The Pittsburgh Panthers are very strong in only one area, but that one area - the passing game - has been more than enough to lift Pitt to a 5-2 record and a spot in the Top 25. The tandem of Senior Quarterback Rod Rutherford and Sophomore Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been the NCAA's equivalent of Manning to Harrison. Rutherford numbers are dazzing (2,029 yards, 24 TD, 4 INT), but Fitzgerald's numbers are mindboggling (53 catches, 1,018 yards, 15 TD). The fact that the Eagle defense couldn't stop the weak passing attacks of Syracuse and Notre Dame leaves me fearful of what Fitzgerald and company can do on Saturday. The Panther running game is very weak (3.3 yards per carry) and the BC defensive line has been stingy against the run, but that task might be more difficult this week as more Eagle defenders focus on the pass. I expect Pitt to pass early, often and deep. BC will need to devise a defensive plan to contain them. The task will be much easier if the Eagles can generate a pass rush. Notre Dame proved that the best way to slow Rutherford is to get in his face. This will be the number one key to the game for BC.

On the other side of the ball, Derrick Knight needs to get back on the right track. Pittsburgh does not have a strong defense, especially against the run (214 yards per game in the last four). The more time the Eagles have the ball, the less opportunity that Fitzgerald will have to make big plays. It goes without saying that BC needs to cut down on mistakes. Last week, they nearly coughed up the game because of their inability to execute a long snap to the punter. Penalties have plagued the Eagles seemingly every week. Only 6 of 117 Division 1-A teams have drawn more flags than Boston College. I think that the Eagles will move the ball with both the running and passing game. Quinton Porter has put together three very solid weeks in a row and now looks very comfortable and confident behind center.

There isn't much to fear in Pittsburgh's special teams except for Punter Andy Lee (no relation to Buddy). He's currently 8th in the nation in net punting. The Panthers are 62nd in the nation in punt returns and 115th in kickoff returns. Only Penn State and UNLV have lower kickoff return averages in 2003.

BC is better than the Panthers in a number of areas. However, I'm afraid that the Pittsburgh passing game will do severe damage. The Eagles couldn't stop a Notre Dame passing game that ranked among the bottom 20 in college football, so I can't imagine how they will contain Pitt. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
Pittsburgh 38 Boston College 31
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Pitt by the Numbers

BC has beaten Pittsburgh five consecutive times at Alumni Stadium. Pitt leads the all-time series 14-13.

Pittsburgh has scored 108 of their 243 points in the second quarter (15.5 points per game in the second quarter).

BC is first among Division 1-A football programs with a 95% graduation rate. Pittsburgh is last with a football graduation rate of 16%.

Statistic BC PITT
Offense - Run 26 94
Offense - Pass 64 16
Defense - Run 31 73
Defense - Pass 34 43