This is the fifth all-time meeting between Pitt and Clemson...the series is tied, 2-2...the 2021 game marks the first to be played in Pittsburgh...the Tigers have won each of the last two encounters: 52-17 last season in Clemson's Memorial Stadium and 42-10 in the 2018 ACC Championship Game played in Charlotte...following that ACC title game, Clemson went on to claim the College Football Playoff national championship with a 15-0 record.
With Clemson playing at Syracuse and at Pitt in back-to-back weeks, Saturday's game will represent only the second time in school history the Tigers will play consecutive games north of the Mason-Dixon Line. In 1952, Clemson defeated Boston College, 13- 0, at Braves Field in Boston on touchdown runs by tailback Billy Hair and fullback Red Whitten. A week later, Clemson tied Fordham, 12-12, in a game played at Triborough Stadium in Randalls Island, New York. Archives of The Tiger Newspaper recount "6,000 shivering fans" witnessing Clemson Hall of Famer Don King score on runs of 74 and 66 yards amid his 234 yards on 33 attempts against the Rams. The 18-year old King's 234 yards were a school record at the time and currently rank as the third-most in a single game in school history.
In the present day, Saturday's matchup will feature two of college football's marquee units. Clemson enters the contest ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of only 12.5 points per game and trailing only the nation's top-ranked team — No. 1 Georgia — in that category. Pitt, meanwhile, enters the game ranked third in the nation in scoring offense at 48.3 points per game. The Panthers are one of only four teams in the nation averaging at least 45.0 points per game this season.
What to watch for:
- Clemson attempting to improve to 29-3 in true road games since 2015. It would give Clemson victories in 45 of its last 53 games away from home overall.
- Clemson attempting to improve to 72-5 in regular season play since the start of the 2015 season. All five of Clemson's regular season losses in that span have been decided by a final margin of seven or fewer points.
- Clemson, which is No. 23 in the Coaches Poll but unranked in the AP Poll, playing its first game against an AP-ranked opponent as an AP-unranked team since Sept. 17, 2011, when unranked Clemson defeated the defending national champions, No. 21 Auburn, by a 38-24 score at Death Valley.
Clemson attempting to defeat No. 23 Pitt to improve to 24-6 against AP Top 25 teams since 2015. Clemson ranks third in AP Top 25 winning percentage and fourth in total AP Top 25 wins in that span.
- Swinney attempting to earn a 33rd victory against an AP-ranked opponent. Nick Saban (83) and Mike Gundy (34) are the only active head coaches with more.
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The Tigers face their biggest challenge defensively they have faced this season, as they try to contain quarterback Kenny Pickett and the high-flying Panther offense. Even though I fully expect the Tigers to slow down the Panthers' offense, I have not seen anything through the first six games which leads me to believe the Tigers can score enough to win. Tigers lose, and with it goes their hopes at a return to the ACC Championship.
Clemson: 13 Pittsburgh: 27
If the Tigers are going to pull off an upset on the road at Pitt, they are going to need another masterful performance from Brent Venables' defense. While Panthers QB Kenny Pickett has been lighting up the scoreboard so far this season, Pitt has not faced the caliber of defense that the Tigers will bring to town. Venables has had success facing Pickett over the past two games, and will again on Saturday, while the offense does just enough.
Clemson 24 Pitt 20
It's so rare to see Clemson as an underdog in an ACC game but it's justified with the way this team has been playing on offense. Points will still be at a premium on the road for the Tigers, so determining the result comes down to how the defense fares against high-scoring Pitt and Kenny Pickett. However, Brent Venables has owned the talented quarterback in the last two meetings, and he'll do the same again.
Clemson 20, Pitt 17