Panthers, Cavaliers meet in Charlottesville on Friday night with first place in the ACC Coastal Division on the line
After their 31-21 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Virginia Cavaliers are at No. 25 in the first 2018 College Football Playoff ranking. This weekend, the Cavaliers will aim for their fourth straight victory as they face the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Speaking of Pittsburgh, the Panthers are also still in the ACC Coastal Division race after their 54-45 win over the Duke Blue Devils. If the Panthers win their four remaining games, they will make it to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
Pittsburgh leads the all-time series over Virginia 7-3, including a 31-17 victory last season.
Pittsburgh at Virginia
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Virginia -7.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Bryce Perkins
Virginia's offense has exceeded all expectations with Perkins under center this season. Last weekend against the Tar Heels, Perkins became the second Cavaliers quarterback in history to throw for over 200 yards and rush for over 100 in the same game.
Perkins has thrown for 1,623 yards, with 15 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He also has rushed for 575 yards and six touchdowns, so the Panthers defense will have to be aware of his dual-threat abilities.
2. Pittsburgh offense
Against Duke, Pittsburgh registered its best offensive performance of the 2018 season. The Panthers put up 54 points and 634 total yards, with 484 of them coming on the ground.
Freshman running back V'Lique Carter made his debut against the Blue Devils, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries. It will be a challenge for the Cavaliers defense to slow him down, as they're giving up an average of 113 yards on the ground per game.
3. The two defenses
As good as Pittsburgh's offense was last week against Duke, the defense was equally bad, allowing 619 total yards and 45 points. With Perkins under center, it will be a challenge for the Panthers to slow down the Cavaliers' offense. Likewise, while Virginia has a stingy run defense, the Cavs will be facing a Pittsburgh offense that is among the nation's best at running the football.
"Pitt is a unique challenge. They are very physical, and a tough football team," Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said of the Panthers. "You have to be really sound in your fundamentals. Your eye control has to be good because of the nature of the run-game. This will be a competitive matchup."
Friday's game between the Panthers and Cavaliers could very well be an exciting one. The difference will be which defense can slow down the opposing offense. That's where the advantage lies with Virginia.
The Cavaliers are No. 20 in the nation in total defense, as they're giving up an average of 327.4 yards per game. The Panthers, on the other hand, are giving up 409.9 yards per game, which is 84th in the country. Advantage Virginia.
Prediction: Virginia 34, Pittsburgh 24
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.