DURHAM, N.C. — Duke wants to give Pittsburgh a warm welcome to life on the road in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Panthers make their first road trip in the ACC today when they visit a Blue Devils team looking to get past a discouraging loss to Georgia Tech.
Duke (2-1, 0-1) squandered much of the momentum of its first 2-0 start since 1998 with its 24-point loss to the Yellow Jackets.
“It wasn’t any individual or any one thing. … It doesn’t catch up with you until it catches up with you,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We’re putting a premium on how well we execute on both sides of the ball.”
Neither team can afford to fall to 0-2 in league play and essentially have its Coastal Division chances evaporate just four weeks into the season.
Pitt (1-1, 0-1) bounced back from its lopsided opening loss to No. 8 Florida State by beating New Mexico 49-27. Now comes the Panthers’ first test away from Heinz Field.
“You just embrace it and they have to go play somewhere different,” coach Paul Chryst said. “It’s going to be a new locker room. We have to just jump in.”
Five things to know about Pitt’s first visit to Duke since 1976:
PITT’S KIDS: Pitt seems to be going all-in with some of its freshmen. Freshmen scored 37 of its 49 points last week against New Mexico, including two touchdowns apiece from WR Tyler Boyd and RB James Conner.
CONNETTE CANNOT STRESS: Brandon Connette is making just his second start as a full-time quarterback and the Blue Devils insist he can’t allow himself to shoulder too much of the burden for the team’s performance.
GEORGIA WHO?: Duke is happy to forget all about Georgia Tech and its pesky triple option. The Blue Devils’ defense seems eager to get back to dealing with an opponent that plays a more common style — like Pitt, a classic power-football team with a bulky offensive line and a pair of gifted receivers.
PITT’S WRS: Pitt boasts one of the top receiving tandems in the ACC in Boyd and Devin Street, and that means a test for Duke CB Ross Cockrell and a secondary that last week allowed four touchdown passes to run-first Georgia Tech.
HISTORY LESSON: These two schools do have a few ties. They met in the first game at Wallace Wade Stadium on Oct. 5, 1929, prompting Cutcliffe to quip that “they played that game and the stock market crashed.” In between his two stints as Pitt’s coach, Johnny Majors hired Cutcliffe as an assistant at Tennessee. And Duke assistants Kurt and Zac Roper are the sons of former Pitt assistant Bob Roper.