A Wounded Panther Is a Dangerous One

Whether domestic or in the wild, animals are never at their most dangerous than when they are wounded. This triggers a fight or flight response in animals, and that mentality seems to translate to college athletics as well. With your back against the wall, teams have managed to do the impossible. Pitt is no different and should not be thought of as a guaranteed win on the schedule – not that literally any outlet believes that.

ESPN gives the Mountaineers a 35.9% chance of beating Pitt Saturday, despite week one and two leaning more in the favor of WVU being the more competitive squad. Any betting line favoring the Eers only gives the team a single point advantage in the contest. There’s no time like primetime on ABC this weekend to show the nation who owns this rivalry in the past 60 years.

The River City Travesty

Through nearly all of last week’s game against Cincinnati, Pitt did not look like the type of team that had produced so many NFL prospects in the past two seasons. Their inconsistencies on offense began to become glaring, as momentum continued to build for a Cincinnati fan base that was much larger than anticipated. It was only in the fourth quarter that Pittsburgh began to fight back. Down 27 to 7, the Panthers struck twice in that fourth quarter to narrow the gap and make it a one score game. Though they fell short by running out of regulation time, this should serve as a glaring concern for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

I’ve Said It Before – Safe Sucks

Too many times, we have chosen a conservative style that rapidly decelerates when we feel enough of a cushion exists. Despite many examples where this has not been the case, and even instances where we have lost games from a team returning back from a perceived impossible deficit, the head coach is currently a heavy subscriber of analytical football. If 60% of the time playing safe will win you football games, we will play it safe because on paper that makes sense. On paper, for example, you would punt the ball on 4th down with only a couple of yards to gain at the emotional climax of a rivalry game. What happened instead is those statistics became gasoline on a couch fire someone was ready to start in Morgantown. Ultimately worthless.

Beating Pitt This Year

To win against the Pitt Panthers in an emotional game that both sides are ready to play, you have to find a way to get out in front, stomp your foot on their neck, and hold them down. Never slow down, never give an inch. With time, this is a team that can string together touchdowns, and in two games have aired out for more than 450 yards. Before you assume that was all on the poor Wofford Terriers, Cincinnati saw nearly 200 of those, with almost half just in the 4thquarter alone through their successful drives. With a secondary we are still waiting to see some sparks from, allowing them to air it out – which they are among the top teams in the ACC for deep shots – can be a recipe for defeat. Bring the fight to the trenches, and leave little white streaks on the turf where Jurkovec used to be. There’s no threat of a deep ball being dead accurate with constant pressure.

The fans are showing out in Morgantown tomorrow night and ready to see a new era of football emerge. It is time to be savage. Time to be ruthless. Time to put the Big 12 on notice that the Mountaineers are 2-1 and ready for the conference foes.

Let’s go.

photo credit: Pittsburgh Athletics

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Benjamin Gilbert
Benjamin Gilbert here - panhandle resident and enjoyer of Pitt losses. First and foremost, I am a lifelong West Virginia Mountaineer fan and do my best to inspire that passion in my beautiful wife and talented kids. Unfortunately, fandom doesn't always pay the bills. I have been writing for a decade and a half for various professions and multi-faceted franchises, so writing is what I do. Combining my skills with my passion for the WVU teams, I always seek to provide fair and honest takes on our path to finding the top of college athletics. Let's Go.