Pitt vs. Eastern Michigan: Quick Lane Bowl fearless prediction and game preview.
Pitt vs. Eastern Michigan: Quick Lane Bowl Broadcast
Pitt (7-5) vs. Eastern Michigan (6-6) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Quick Lane Bowl
– Could we possibly be thrown a bowl game curveball? This hasn’t been the best of bowl games since it turned into the Quick Lane Bowl six years ago – the last two have been ugly – but it’s a shot for the MAC to make a big statement against a Power Five program, and for the ACC, it’s a bowl that has to be a win to throw on to the pile.
Eastern Michigan was able to stun Illinois earlier this year and will bring the energy and effort. Pitt had a strange habit of playing just about every game close, including a 20-10 win over Ohio from the MAC.
– This is just the fifth bowl game ever for Eastern Michigan and it has only won one of them – it’s going to care. It’s only the third bowl appearance since winning the 1987 California Bowl over San Jose State, and it’s the program’s first ever bowl against a Power Five-caliber school.
Pitt has won just one bowl game since dropping Kentucky in the 2010 BBVA Compass going 1-6 since then. The last win was in Detroit in 2013 in what used to be the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, beating Bowling Green. The program needs a bowl win under Pat Narduzzi after going 0-3.
– This matchup could’ve been a whole lot stronger. Had an SEC team made it into the Cotton Bowl instead of Penn State, the Big Ten bowl pecking order would’ve been different and Michigan State or Illinois would’ve been here playing the Panthers. Eastern Michigan, though, again, will come up with a strong effort and could absolutely win this if Pitt takes the MAC team lightly.
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Why Eastern Michigan Will Win
– Pitt has a huge problem giving the ball away. To pull this off, Eastern Michigan has to get a few easy chances to score and has to create its own breaks. It didn’t beat Illinois because of turnover margin, but the two takeaways were a massive key to the upset. EMU is 5-2 this year when winning the turnover battle and and 1-4 when it doesn’t.
Pitt is a -8 in turnover margin – it’s among the worst teams in the country in giveaways – turning it over three times or more in three of the last five games. The team is dead even in turnover margin in the seven wins and a -8 in the five losses.
– This has to be the Mike Glass game. The EMU QB has picked dup his game just when the team needed him the most, going from being a decent but inconsistent playmaker throughout the first half of the season to a deadly accurate bomber over the final few weeks.
He connected on 80% of his throws over the last three games with six touchdown passes, however, he threw two picks in the loss to Kent State to close things out. Again with the turnover margin, EMU lost all four games against FBS teams when he threw an interception.
– Again, mistakes, and doing all of the little things right will matter. To beat this dead horse, there’s no way EMU wins this if it’s on the wrong side of the turnover battle, and being on the right side of penalties is a must, too. Pitt had a problem with flags all year long, sinning more than eight times a game for 71 yards yards. EMU led the MAC with the fewest flags, getting tagged fewer than five times a game for just 41 yards.
Why Pitt Will Win
– Run, run and run some more. This isn’t good Pitt rushing attack – it finished last in the ACC averaging 121 yards per game – but it has to give it a try early on. The passing attack is okay and should be able to move the chains when needed, but the Panthers are 5-1 when they can run for just 100 yards – they’re not setting the bar all that high.
The Eastern Michigan run defense is a disaster, allowing 230 rushing yards or more in four of the last five games – only Akron, possibly the nation’s worst team, was slowed down – and was 1-6 when giving up 170 rushing yards or more. To get snobby, this is when the Power Five offensively line talent has to kick in.
– Here comes the pass rush. It’s not a positive that Pitt generated just one sack in the regular-season ending loss to Boston College – this D is going to be a bit salty. From every spot up front, the Panthers are fantastic at getting into the backfield with 49 sacks on the season and 98 tackles for loss. The EMU offensive line hasn’t been bad this year, but there’s a shot the Pitt defense takes over this thing right away and blows the game up. Thanks to all of the pressure …
– This Pitt D is the real deal. It’s good enough to rise up and rock with one of the nation’s best pass defenses and with a run D that allowed fewer than 100 yards six times. It’s hardly a lock that EMU will hit the 300-yard mark in total offense against this group, so as long as Pitt can not screw this up – going conservative isn’t a problem here. Just … don’t … turn it … over. That’s easier said than done for this team.