For the second time in the Frank Solich era, Ohio will face off against the Pitt Panthers in the early portion of the schedule. In 2005, the Bobcats stunned the Panthers 16-10 for coach Frank Solich’s first win at Peden Stadium. The game signified the beginning of the success the program has sustained under the Solich era.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Panthers:
All-time series: Pitt 6-1. The first meeting between the two programs was in 1902 where the Panthers won 34-0.
The Pitt report: The Panthers are fresh off an ACC Championship Game appearance where they lost 42-10 to eventual national champion Clemson. Pitt is led by fifth-year head coach Pat Narduzzi, who has compiled a 28-25 record ahead of this Saturday.
Last season, the Panthers went 7-7 and lost 14-13 to Stanford in the Sun Bowl.
Junior quarterback Kenny Pickett is the bright spot in a relatively inexperienced Pitt offense. It lost four out of five starters on the offensive line – a line that was a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award, given to the best offensive line in the country – and it also running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, who each totaled over 1,000 rushing yards last season.
The Panthers return a bulk of talent at wide receiver with Maurice Ffrench, Taysir Mack and Aaron Matthews. The trio combined for 841 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season.
Defensively, the Panthers are young and have replaced key pieces of their front seven from a season ago, including all three of their linebackers and one safety.
Pitt, who lost defensive end Rashad Weaver to a torn ACL in fall camp, also lost defensive tackle Keyshon Camp for the season Wednesday after he suffered a knee injury.
Last season, Pitt’s offense averaged 369.7 yards per game. Its defense allowed an average of 387.6 yards per game.
How Ohio beats Pitt: Last week against FCS Rhode Island, the Bobcats’ defense was good but not great. While they only allowed 84 rushing yards, they gave up 291 passing yards to an inexperienced quarterback. Ohio will have to be more fundamentally sound in the secondary if it expects to leave Heinz Field with a win.
Offensively, the Bobcats need to produce the same effort they had against the Rams. Quarterback Nathan Rourke went 16-for-22 and totaled 188 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball 10 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.
The running backs for the Bobcats will need to serve a more big-threat play for them. De’Montre Tuggle might be that running back after he had a 55-yard touchdown last week.
Stat to know: Ohio has three victories over Power 5 teams since 2012. It stunned Penn State in 2012 and beat Kansas twice in that span. Overall, Solich is 4-11 against Power 5 schools in his tenure at Ohio.
Player to watch: Damar Hamlin, senior safety, No. 3
Hamlin is one of the lone anchors in the Pitt defense. Last season, he led the team with 90 tackles (61 solo, 29 assisted) and tied for first with two interceptions.
In his season debut against Virginia, Hamlin made seven solo tackles.