Here are a few keys or things to look for tomorrow:
1. This is UCONN's first true road test of the year. That should give Pitt at least a small advantage.
2. It will be interesting to see how the carries are split up between Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. I expect Dion Lewis to still get the most carries, but if Ray Graham holds onto the ball, I think he'll see his fair share. You would think this should benefit Pitt as each guy will be doing his best to stay on the field.
3. Can Bill Stull continue his torrid pace? Throughout the whole season, not likely. But let's see what he does tomorrow. I'm also interested in seeing how the crowd will treat him if he starts slowly. Yes, he deserves unquestioned support based on how he's played all season, but the fans sometimes aren't the brightest. I can understand the booing in the first game, but it should take a catastrophic performance tomorrow to hear any boos.
4. Can the defense keep the pressure on and get to the QB? Similarly, will UCONN be able to as well? Both teams rank in the top five in the country in sacks (Cincinnati's also in the top five). Which team will be able to get to the QB?
5. Will Dan Hutchins get to kick a field goal? I have to admit I was surprised that Pitt didn't attempt one in the first quarter last week on their first drive. Then I heard Dave Wannstedt say that Hutchins tops out at about 45 yards. That's kind of scary and if Wannstedt says it's 45, I wouldn't be surprised if it's closer to 40. I know the other kicker could be brought in for longer distances, but he hasn't played all year and I'd hate to see him come in during a clutch situation without having kicked in a game all year.
6. How will the secondary respond? Last week, they played pretty well - let's see if they can duplicate that.
7. How many deep looks will Baldwin get? It's clear that if the ball is thrown anywhere near him, he has a solid chance at pulling the ball down. If the flow of the game dictates it, I'd like to see Pitt go deep to him at least three times.
This really is a must-win for Pitt in my eyes. They still have what are probably the three toughest conference tests - Cincinnati, South Florida, West Virginia - on their schedule along with Notre Dame. I think Pitt really needs to get to ten wins this season, and they could do that with a 9-3 record in the regular season and a bowl win. Pitt could easily have two losses out of that group, so they really need to beat the UCONNs and Rutgers of the world (though that Rutgers road game probably will be no picnic) if it wants to get to 10 wins.
Prediction: Pitt 24 - UCONN 13