A Look Back at the Last Pitt-Clemson Game

Pitt appears in their first conference championship game in program history this Saturday when they face Atlantic division champion, Clemson. While the Tigers have been a national powerhouse the last few seasons, winning the ACC and appearing in the College Football Playoff each of the last 3 seasons. However, for one night a little over two years ago, the Panthers were the better team. On November 12, 2016, the Pitt football team went down to the Carolinas to face a #2 ranked undefeated Clemson team. We all of course know what happened that day, with Pitt pulling off a monumental upset over the eventual national champions on a late Chris Blewitt Field Goal. This same set-up will occur again in the ACC Championship game this weekend, albeit at an ostensibly neutral field in Charlotte, North Carolina. Additionally, for both games Pitt was/is a more than 3 touchdown underdog (26 points this weekend and 22 points in 2016). Despite being large underdogs, they have a chance to repeat history if they can pull off the upset. Before their historic ACC Championship Game appearance this weekend though, let’s take a look at the last time Pitt and Clemson met on the gridiron.

DeShaun Watson’s Big Day

The 2016 Pitt Panthers had a prolific offense with 5 future NFL draftees (so far), but as good as they were the other side of the ball was just as inept. That season the Panthers gave up 35.2 points per game, 106th in FBS. The future Houston Texans quarterback took full advantage of Pitt’s porous defense, passing for an ACC record 580 yards and 3 touchdowns. He attempted a mind-boggling 70 passes, completing 52 of them for a 74% completion percentage. Overall, the Tigers scored 42 points that day and gained an impressive 625 yards.  It was a game that was emblematic of Pitt’s season-long defensive struggles and was a career day for Watson. Given all of this, and the fact that Clemson came in as heavy favorites, it’s surprising that Pitt was able to leave Death Valley with a win. This is of course due to Pitt’s own prolific offensive performance, as well as some timely turnovers. From a neutral perspective, it’s actually a shame that Watson’s historic performance had to come in a losing effort and I felt it important to acknowledge it.

14-Point Swing