TOP 25 COLLEGE PREVIEW: #24 PITTSBURGH VS. NC STATE

PANTHERS NOTES:

Pitt seeks its first 4-0 start in 20 years when it hosts NC State at Heinz Field. The Panthers notched their third victory with a 23-20 win over No. 24 Louisville. NC State visits with a 1-1 record following a 45-24 loss at Virginia Tech. √ The Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 2014 and only the fourth time since 2000. Pitt last opened with four consecutive wins in 2000. Prior to that, Pitt last started 4-0 in 1991 (5-0). √ Pitt owns national rankings in both major polls. The Panthers are ranked No. 24 by Associated Press. Pitt entered the USA Today Coaches poll this week for the first time this season, placing No. 25. √ Since 2015, Pat Narduzzi has directed the Panthers to 26 victories in ACC play, the thirdhighest win total during that span, trailing only Clemson (39) and Miami (27). √ Pitt boasts top-10 national rankings in total defense (second, 177.0 yards per game), rushing defense (second, 56.0 yards per game), passing defense (third, 121.0 yards per game) and scoring defense (sixth, 10.0 points per game). √ Through three contests, the Panthers have surrendered only three points in the second half. √ The Panthers’ heralded pass rush has produced 17 sacks through three games. Pitt ranks fifth nationally with an average of 5.67 sacks per contest. Defensive ends Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver pace Pitt with 3.5 sacks each. √ Freshman wide receiver Jordan Addison is off to an impressive start and leads Pitt with 21 catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. The last freshman to lead Pitt in receiving was Tyler Boyd in 2013.

Pitt-NC State History in Brief

Series Began: 1952

Series Overall: Pitt leads 5-4-1

ACC Series: NC State leads 1-0

At Pittsburgh: Pitt leads 4-1

At NC State: NC State leads 2-0-1

At Neutral Sites: Series tied 1-1

Last Meeting: Oct. 14, 2017

(NC State 35, Pitt 17)

Last Meeting at NCSU: Sept. 26, 2009

(NC State 38, Pitt 31)

Current Series Win Streak:

NC State has won 2 (2009, 2017)

Longest Pitt Series Win Streak:

2 games (1952-53)

Longest NC State Series Win Streak:

2 games (2009, 2017)

Largest Pitt Margin of Victory:

42 points (48-6, 1952)

Largest NC State Margin of Victory:

18 points (35-17, 2017)

 

WOLFPACK NOTES:

THE SERIES vs. PITT • This will mark only the 11th meeting ever between NC State and Pitt and the second as ACC rivals. • The Panthers joined the ACC in 2013 and NC State played in Pittsburgh in 2017. • Five of the games in the series have been played on the road, two in bowl games and just three in Raleigh. NOTING THE WOLFPACK • NC State is playing its second straight road game against a ranked opponent. • Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren is in his eighth season with the Wolfpack, tying him for second among the longest tenured coaches in NC State history behind Earle Edwards (17, 1954-70) and Beattie Feathers (8, 1944-51). • Junior PK Christopher Dunn has connected on 13 straight field goals – the third-longest streak in school history (he also holds the second-longest at 19). • The Wolfpack tallied six sacks in game 1 and ranks 12th nationally in that category after two games. • After opening the season at home, the Wolfpack is now in the middle of a three-game road stint: at Virginia Tech (9/26), at Pitt (10/3) and at Virginia (10/10). • Ricky Person was named to the Paul Hornung Honor Roll for his performance against Wake Forest after rushing for 99 yards and two touchdowns, throwing a two-yard touchdown pass, catching a pass and returning a kickoff. ON PRO FIELDS NC State will face the Panthers at Heinz Field, which also doubles as the home of the NFL’s sixtime Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers (and currently 3-0 in 2020). It will mark the sixth time the Wolfpack has played in an NFL Stadium under head coach Dave Doeren, second at Pitt. NC State is 2-3 in those games, with all three losses coming in neutral site matchups (Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium in the 2015 Belk Bowl and vs. South Carolina in 2017 and at TIAA Bank Field at the 2018 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl). The Pack is 2-0 as a visitor on a pro field, winning at USF’s Raymond James Stadium in 2014, 49-18, and at Pitt, 35-17, in 2017.

RED ZONE SUCCESS Heading into the third game of the season, NC State is one of 23 schools nationally that has scored every time its entered the red zone in 2020. The Pack is a perfect 9-of-9 in red zone attempts thus far. In fact, eight of NC State’s nine touchdowns on the season have all come as red zone scores. The 2020 success is a far cry from the Wolfpack 2019 struggles. The Pack ranked 67th nationally in red zone conversions last season and the 23 red zone TDs scored ranked 92nd nationally. OFFENSE STRONG IN OPENER New offensive coordinator Tim Beck started his tenure at NC State off with a bang in the season opener, as the Wolfpack offense hung 45 points on Wake Forest. That was the highest scoring total for the Pack since scoring 58 to close out the 2018 regular season against East Carolina. It was the most in an ACC game since a 51-point outing versus Louisville on Nov. 17, 2018. The offense tallied 463 total yards, including 270 yard rushing. It had been 28 games since NC State had gained as many ground yards (292 vs. UNC, 11/25/17). NC State came out fast and furious, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions (first time since vs. Furman (9/6/17). PACK SACK ATTACK In his previous seven seasons as a sole defensive coordinator, Pack DC Tony Gibson was known for dialing up the blitz. As for current Wolfpack defensive line coach Charley Wiles, during his 24 seasons at Virginia Tech, the Hokies registered 893 sacks – the highest total of any team in the nation during that time frame. NC State tallied six sacks in the season opener and added a pair last week to rank 10th nationally in total sacks – 12th in sacks per game. That half dozen in the win over the Demon Deacons equalled the total the Pack posted in the final three games combined last season. Five different players recorded a sack, led by DE Daniel Joseph with a pair. Three came from Gibson’s linebackers. This pressure was important down the stretch, as the Pack recorded back-to-back sacks and forced a turnover on downs on Wake’s final drive as they were looking for a field goal to tie with just over one minute left. VS. RANKED ON THE ROAD NC State will be facing its second straight ranked opponent on the road this weekend, as the Pack travels to No. 24 Pitt after coming off a loss last weekend at No. 0 Virginia Tech. In the 11th matchup in the NCSU-Pitt series, this season marks the third time Pitt has held a national ranking entering the contest. The Panthers were No. 16 in the Tangerine Bowl which NC State won 30-17, and Pitt held serve on its home turf in 1987 with a 34-0 win when they were ranked No. 18.