It's another early-season showdown between No. 17 Pittsburgh and No. 24 Tennessee Saturday, one year after playing a thrilling Week 2 game that the Panthers won 41-34. This time, Pitt gets home-field advantage as it welcomes an SEC opponent to Acrisure Stadium for the first time in program history. The afternoon contest between the reigning ACC champion and a Tennessee program seeking to build off a bowl appearance should be among the most compelling of the weekend.
Both teams won their season openers, but those wins came in dramatically different fashion. Pittsburgh outlasted rival West Virginia 38-31, scoring 14 unanswered points in the final four minutes. Rodney Hammond Jr. ran for two touchdowns while USC transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis threw for 308 yards and a touchdown on 16 of 24 passing.
Tennessee, meanwhile, cruised to a 59-10 win over Ball State by racking up 569 total yards and 32 first downs. The Volunteers jumped out to a 38-0 halftime lead against their MAC foe and were able to get their reserves some playing time in the second half. Redshirt senior quarterback Hendon Hooker scored four total touchdowns -- two passing and two rushing -- to highlight Tennessee's effort.
Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee: Need to know
Contrasting offensive styles: Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi indicated during the offseason that he wanted his offense to become more run-oriented following the departure of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple for Nebraska. New coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. heeded that wish in the Panthers' win over West Virginia. Pitt threw on just 43.3% of its plays against the Mountaineers after passing on 53.4% of its plays last season. Pitt ran just 62 total offensive plays in its opener, while the pass-oriented Volunteers ran 86 in their opener, which sets up this matchup to be a contrast in styles.
Quarterback familiarity: Pittsburgh's staff is quite familiar with Hooker, who played against the Panthers in 2019 and 2020 while at Virginia Tech. In fact, Narduzzi joked Monday that Pitt has seen Hooker for "the last 12 years." After transferring to Tennessee in 2021, Hooker entered last season's contest against Pitt as the Vols' backup before an injury to Joe Milton provided him an opportunity to play. From there, Hooker never relinquished the starting job. In three career games against Pittsburgh, Hooker is 36 of 56 passing for 601 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions and has 129 yards rushing.
Johnny Majors Classic: This game is dubbed "The Johnny Majors Classic" in honor of the former Pittsburgh and Tennessee coach, who died in 2020 at the age of 85. Majors led the Panthers to the 1976 national title before coaching Tennessee, his alma mater, for 16 seasons. He ultimately ended his coaching career with a second stint at Pitt. It was during Majors' tenure at Tennessee that the teams played their first two meetings, with the Panthers winning at Tennessee in 1980 and 1983.
How to watch Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 10 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Acrisure Stadium -- Pittsburgh
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee prediction, picks
These teams combined to score 75 points last season in Pittsburgh's 41-34 victory at Tennessee, and this should be another high-scoring game. Though Pittsburgh's offense is a slower operation than it was last season, the Panthers still scored plenty in their 38-31 Week 1 victory over West Virginia. The Volunteers have only improved offensively since last season's meeting, and they certainly aren't known for their defense. Look for a lot of points to be scored. Prediction: Over 65.5
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