Both Pitt and Iowa enter Saturday's game having their share of struggles. The Hawkeyes are fresh off an overtime loss to Iowa State, and the Panthers, while 2-0, have looked lackluster so far.
The key for Pitt may be in their quarterback play. There's been a mini-controversy this week after Tino Sunseri was replaced with backup Trey Anderson in last week's contest against Maine. Anderson entered the game after Sunseri's second interception, leading to the belief that there's a quarterback controversy. Head coach Todd Graham tried to squash such notions by immediately declaring Sunseri the starter this week. But if Sunseri struggles again, Graham may be forced to go to Anderson, the walk-on freshman.
Regardless of how the quarterbacks play, one thing you can look for is for Ray Graham to get plenty of carries. He leads the FBS in rushing and is tied for the lead in touchdowns with six. Those numbers have come against lesser competition, though, and even though Iowa hasn't been very good against the run so far this year, things could get significantly tougher for Graham. The Panthers need Graham to come up with a big game and help open up the passing game.
On defense, an individual player to watch for is true freshman Juan Price, who is expected to start for the second straight game. Price was a big time recruit that signed with Ohio State before coming to Pitt after the Jim Tressel mess. Pitt was so desperate to get him into the starting lineup that they moved Brandon Lindsey back to defensive end in order to play Price at the Panther linebacker spot. The linebackers haven't played particularly well in pass coverage and Price will be counted on to help slow the Hawkeyes' passing attack.
For the Panthers to hang with Iowa, they'll need to play considerably better on defense. The Hawkeyes are averaging nearly 40 points a game and boast two skill players that could cause Pitt trouble - wide receiver Marvin McNutt and running back Marcus Coker. McNutt averages just over 100 yards per game receiving and Coker averages 90 yards on the ground.
How do I see this one shaping out? Really, it's too close to call, but if I've got to make a pick, I'd give Iowa the slight advantage since they're at home. Pitt is plenty capable of winning, though, and a strong performance should result in a victory.