When the Virginia Tech Hokies face the Pittsburgh Panthers this weekend, Hokie fans will be a bit worried, and for good reason.
The Hokies have a four game losing streak to the Panthers.
“This is a team we have had a hard time beating, they’ve gotten us the last four times,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “Going back and checking, Alabama hasn’t done that, LSU hasn’t done that, Texas A&M hasn’t done that, Clemson hasn’t done that, Florida St. hasn’t done that, Miami hasn’t done that — but Pittsburgh has.”
However, the Hokies' problems with Pitt don’t stop there.
In each of the four games in the losing streak, Tech has been ranked in the top 15, while the Panthers were only ranked once-they were 25th.
Outside of the four-game losing streak, the Hokies seem to have a particular problem with playing Pitt. They’re 7-5 in games against the Panthers and the Hokies are just against the Panthers when they enter the game ranked.
“It’s a team we’ve had a hard time beating, whether it’s matchups or whatever, it’s a team we haven’t had great success against,” Beamer said.
In the games themselves the Hokies have struggled too. During the four-game losing streak Tech has turned the ball over 15 times.
The Hokies have had trouble both defensively and offensively.
They've allowed an average of 465 yards of offense and 33 points and gained just 301 yards and scored 18 points on average against the Panthers during the losing streak.
Struggles against the Panthers don’t seem to end after the games do, however.
Tech had a combined record of 23-2 going into the last four games against Pitt. Including the Pitt game, their combined record after playing the Panthers was 10-17.
In fact, in the last nine contests between the Hokies and Panthers, Tech has been ranked higher entering the game than they were at the end of the season, even in the years that they’ve won.
For the superstitious, playing the Panthers is a bad omen for the Hokies, but Beamer believes it is just the case of the Panthers being a tough team.
“The facts are: they’re talented, they’re well-coached, they’re very, very tough and physical,” Beamer said.
Now that the Panthers are in the ACC and in the same division as the Hokies, that challenge is going to be even harder.
“In conference play, every game is a playoff game, and this is as big as they get,” said defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
This season is no different, despite the Panthers not being ranked; the coaches feel they’re going to be a tough team to beat.
“We’ve got to take a huge step this week,” said offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. “I think they play really, really hard, and we’ve got to bring our best efforts this week.”