1. Louisville is now bowl eligible, but still have two games left to play in the regular season. This weekend the Cardinals are at Pitt and then at Kentucky to finish. We understand the importance of beating the Wildcats, but what's on the line for the Cardinals at Pittsburgh?
There is quite a bit on the line for both the Cardinals (6-4, 5-2) and Panthers (7-3, 5-1). The win will be the signature victory for either team this season. Per Jeff Sagarin's ratings, Louisville's best victory to date was its win at NC State, which checks in at No.47. Pitt's best win to date is a victory over No.43 Virginia Tech. Louisville currently sits at No.35 with Sagarin, while the host Panthers sit at No.30.
A win also gives the Cardinals a 6-2 record in ACC play, a one game improvement on its debut season last fall. That league record would also keep the Cardinals among the ACC's top performers, joining No.1 Clemson, No.14 Florida State, No.17 North Carolina and Pittsburgh as team's just two or fewer losses in conference play.
Of course, a win further strengthens either team's chances of improving its post season bowl destination.
2. What's Pittsburgh's biggest offensive threat?
Getting the ball in the hands of wide receiver Tyler Boyd. The junior leads Pitt with 69 receptions for 700 yards and five touchdowns. He leads the ACC in receptions per game (7.7) and receiving yards per game (77.8). He's also rushed 28 times for 197 yards.
Also keep an eye out for freshaman Jordan Whitehead. While he leads the team in tackles from his safety spot, he's also had his number called a few times to carry the ball for the Panthers the past two weeks and its resulted in a pair of touchdowns and an 8.1 yards per carry average.
3. Will the Panthers pass rush cause problems for Kyle Bolin and the passing game?
If Pitt can get pressure, it will certainly create problems for the passing game and may cause for some in-game adjustments. The next question is, will Pitt get enough pressure on Bolin to make a difference and the answer is quite possibly.
Here's what the Pittsburgh Sports Information Department wants you to know about the the Panthers defense.
Pitt is ranked in the nation’s top 30 in four defensive categories this week: quarterback sacks (13th, 2.90 sacks/game), fourth-down conversion defense (15th, 33.3%), fewest first downs allowed (16th, 166 total) and total defense (26th, 340.0 yards/game).
4. Does Brandon Radcliff have another 100 yard outing this weekend?
The possibility exists. Pittsburgh does rank No.38 against the run this season, but a closer look reveals that the Panther defense is allowing 4.5 yards per attempt. Radcliff has averaged 8.5 yards per rush attempt since Kyle Bolin was inserted as the starting quarterback and rushed for over 100 yards in each.
5. With the regular season winding down, are there any school records or stats of note that we should be looking out for?
There are a few areas worth mentioning.
- Freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson has already established a single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 528 and needs just 228 yards to break the school's career mark of 756 set by Stefan Lefors (2001-04)
- Should Brandon Radcliff rush for more than 100 yards, he'll move into a tie for ninth place on the school's list for running backs with 100+ yard games, equaling Victor Anderson's (2008-11) six.
- Senior defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins moved into 10th on the school's all-time sack list with 17.5 following his performance against Virginia. He needs three more to equal Lorenzo Mauldin with 20.5 for ninth most all-time. climbing career sack list.
- A win at Pittsburgh won't get Bobby Petrino to 100 career victories, but it would set up an interesting sidebar story for the upcoming game at Kentucky. Petrino's overall coaching record currently sits at 98-38. He's 56-17 at Louisville.