This may actually come as a surprise, but Clemson has never defeated Pittsburgh. It's rare to see two programs with this much history have so few meetings, but the Tigers and Panthers have only played twice before. Pitt was victorious in the first meeting back in the 1977 Gator Bowl. The next showdown was just two years ago when then-undefeated Clemson suffered its first and only loss of the season, falling to unranked Pitt 43-42 on a last-second field goal by Panthers kicker Chris Blewitt.
But don't think that Pat Narduzzi and his staff, Pitt's players and especially Pitt's fans aren't thinking about that night in Death Valley as they prepare for Saturday's game against No. 2 Clemson. If Pitt can beat a Deshaun Watson-led title-winning Clemson team at home, it's got a shot against the Tigers' freshman quarterback on a neutral field with the ACC title on the line. Is it possible for this dominant Clemson team to get knocked out of the College Football Playoff hunt? Let's take a look.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 1 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium -- Charlotte, North Carolina
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
Clemson: Dabo Swinney made headlines during the press availability with a plea for better attitudes from the fan base regarding the team's success. It's unclear where the negativity is coming from specifically or who the message was intended for, but something about the response to Clemson's 56-35 win set Dabo off.
"At the end of the day I've been a part of this thing for 16 years, I just want to win by one more point. If that ever gets to where that's not enough, then it's time for me to move on somewhere else. I ain't never going to apologize for a 21-point win over a state rival, ever," Swinney said.
"You people who suggest that it felt like a loss, y'all need to check yourself, too. I've been here 16 years. For all those people out there that want to complain about five wins in a row, winning by three touchdowns, man, that's shameful. That's a lack of respect for our program and a lack of respect for the effort that these players and coaches put in. I hope you write that. 12-0 football team. A senior class that's won 52 games. We got people complaining. Give me a break. If 12-0 ain't good enough, it's time to seek other places."
That "seek other places" line stings the senses with the seasonal paranoia of the coaching carousel. No one at Clemson intends to see Swinney walk away from a program that he's built over the last decade-plus, and his shaming of the fans puts this championship game in a strange position. Clemson is heavily favored, so does that mean another one-point win would draw more criticism? Or will Clemson's fans hear his message and change their attitudes? It's been a while since things have been this contentious at Clemson, and makes for a fascinating sub-headline of their postseason march.
Pitt: The resilience shown by this Pitt team speaks well of the culture that Narduzzi has instilled during his four years with the program. A commitment to winning with a powerful ground game has made the Panthers the most complete team in the ACC Coastal Division throughout conference play, and it's that same rushing attack that is going to have to come up big if an upset is going to happen on Saturday night. Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison are making the biggest impact of their careers here in their senior seasons, powering the best rushing numbers Pitt has put up as a program since James Conner's ACC Player of the Year campaign in 2014.
Game prediction, picks
This is too many daggum points for a game between two really good rushing teams. Clemson and Pitt both want to pound the rock and the Tigers want to get out of the game healthy. Clemson will win, but Pitt will score enough to cover the spread. Pick: Pitt +25.5
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