Pat Narduzzi’s Pittsburgh Panthers are coming off of an ACC Championship. They’re the No. 17 team in the country, poised to make another run at a conference title. And yet, they’re a 6.5 point underdog at home to No. 24 Tennessee.
Pittsburgh escaped Knoxville with a win against Josh Heupel’s year-one Tennessee team. The Volunteers — a clear mid-pack SEC team last season — could have (and should have) easily toppled the Panthers on that day, if not for several missed opportunities early in the game. Joe Milton started at quarterback for that one, but Hendon Hooker finished, and Tennessee really transformed after that moment.
Now Hooker gets his chance to start against Pittsburgh on Saturday, and Vegas thinks he will lead the Volunteers to a big victory.
And Narduzzi is playing it up.
“You know what, you’d like to be the underdog every week,” Narduzzi said. “I don’t even know what the point spread was last week. We were probably the underdog last week at home. I know our crowd was the underdog for sure going into that game.”
Pitt was more than a touchdown favorite last week against West Virginia.
Narduzzi is also tired of hearing about the SEC, as most coaches who don’t coach in the SEC are.
“But you know, it is what it is,” Narduzzi continued. “It’s a good football team coming here. You’ve heard all summer about the SEC, and there’s only really two Power Five conferences in the country, the SEC and the Big Ten, so we’re in the pee-wee league, and we’re going to line up and see if we can play.”
“Whoever sets these odds, who knows. You guys are gambling? I’m not a gambler. Five points, seven points, underdog. I like being the underdog. I will share it.”
It’s all a bit much, and reeks of him trying to manufacture some bulletin board material.
Narduzzi has done quite a bit of talking already this season. He blasted Scott Van Pelt for ESPN’s ‘disrespect’ of Pitt fans after the West Virginia win. He kept going during his press conference.
So disrespect is the angle Pitt is taking here — in a few different ways. We’ll see if that helps them slow down the Tennessee offense on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET/ABC).