Sep 11, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) throws a touchdown pass against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second quarter at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

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Pitt looks to avoid letdown vs. Western Michigan

Following a road win over an SEC opponent, the questions will be predictable for Pittsburgh headed into a home contest against Western Michigan on Saturday.

Will there be a letdown for the Panthers following an emotional 41-34 win at Tennessee?

That will be the million-dollar question for Pitt as it seeks a 3-0 start for a second consecutive year.

“I don’t see that as a problem,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “I think we have a mature football team. We won’t overlook anybody.”

As will be the case throughout the season, the Panthers relied mainly on senior quarterback Kenny Pickett in the win over Tennessee.

Pickett went 24-of-36 passing for 285 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 36 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries to lead Pitt’s offense.

The performance of Pickett, who is 57 yards shy of passing Dan Marino (8,597 from 1979-82) for second-place on the school’s list for most career passing yards, helped the Panthers overcome some special teams and defensive breakdowns to beat the Volunteers.

“It’s nice to have missed execution and W’s at the same time,” Narduzzi said. “That’s what we were able to get. We had some poor execution. You live and learn from it. That’ll be a focus this week.”

Next up for the Panthers is a Mid-American Conference opponent in Western Michigan, which is looking to fare better against its second FBS opponent of the season than it did in its first.

The Broncos (1-1) were walloped in a season opener at Michigan, giving up 551 total yards — including 335 rushing — in a 47-14 loss.

Western Michigan was better in its home opener against an FCS opponent, Illinois State, recording its first shutout since 2018 in a 28-0 win.

The Broncos can be a dangerous team on offense behind sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby (365 yards, two touchdowns) and junior running back La’Darius Jefferson (144 yards, three touchdowns on the ground).

“There are still some things we need to get better at,” Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester said. “Every time you play, it’s a great magnifying glass into what you need to work on. You just go back to work the next week.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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