There could be a seismic shift in the ACC this week based on what happens in the game between Clemons and No. 23 Pitt, which will kick off on Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Since 2015, the Clemson Tigers have come out on top of the ACC each year. During that time they have also won two national championships. But the Tigers have stumbled thus far in 2021, losing their opening game to the Georgia Bulldogs (now the No. 1-ranked team in the country) and then losing a conference matchup against NC State, leaving them with a record of 4-2 and in the unfamiliar place of being outside the top 25 rankings.
Enter this week eight game against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, who are 5-1 and currently ranked No. 23 in the nation. A Pitt win will all but ensure that there will be a new champion in the ACC this year, while a Clemson win would keep the Tigers in the fight.
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Read on for a matchup preview of Clemson vs Pitt and how you can watch the game this weekend.
Clemson vs Pitt matchup preview
The biggest problem for the Clemson Tigers in the 2021 season was apparent right from the get go — their offense. After years of dynamic offensive players like Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins and others on the roster, Clemson’s offense is looking like a shell of its former shelf. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has just 974 passing yards and four touchdown passes, while throwing three interceptions; he’s also been sacked 12 times. Meanwhile, Clemson’s two lead running backs, Kobe Pace and Will Shipley, combined have 505 yards on the season, and top receivers Joseph Ngata and Justyn Ross are the only pass catchers with more than 100 yards on the season.
Clemson has only broken 20 points twice in the season so far — scoring 49 points against South Carolina State (an FCS school) and 21 points in their loss to NC State. This puts them at a season average thus far of 20.5 points per game.
It’s been the Clemson defense keeping them alive this season, as they rank 23 overall, allowing 314.7 yards per game while only giving up an average of 12.5 points per game. They’ve also registered 15 sacks and nine total turnovers.
Clemson needs to win this game so they can keep pace with Wake Forest and NC State in their ACC division. Should they lose, it would be very difficult for them to make a return trip to the ACC Championship game.
Hoping to make that fear a reality are the Pitt Panthers, coming in with a 5-1 record and ranked No. 23. Pitt has been everything that Clemson has not been on the offensive side of the ball — explosive and putting up a ton of points.
Pitt is averaging a staggering 48.3 points per game this season and are being led by quarterback Kenny Pickett, who has thrown for 1,934 yards, 21 touchdowns and just a single interception. Pickett is also one of four Panther players that have rushed for more than 100 yards on the season, with Israel Abanikanda pacing the team with 347; combined, the top four rushers have amassed 945 yards on the ground. They also have a threat at wide receiver, Jordan Addison, who has 34 catches, 586 yards and nine touchdowns in six games.
It’s not just offense though, Pitt has been playing well on defense as well. They are ranked just a few spots behind Clemson’s D in yards per game (319.3) and are allowing an average of 20 points per game. They’ve also registered 21 sacks so far this season, led by Habakkuk Baldonado’s 4.5, and have forced nine turnovers.
Pitt is not in the same ACC division as Clemson, so a loss does not take them out of the driver seat for a chance at the ACC Championship. But a win would make them tough to overcome and signal to the rest of the country that they may be the best team in the ACC this year.
Pitt is a 3.5 point home favorite over Clemson.
How to watch Clemson vs Pitt in the U.S.
This big week eight ACC game between Clemson and Pitt will get a national TV audience as it is slated to air on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 23.
ESPN is a cable network, but one that is included as a base channel on essentially all traditional cable/satellite pay-TV subscriptions, making it easily accessible (check your local listings for what channel ESPN is on). The major sports network is also available on all of the major live TV streaming services, i.e. Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV.
If you are a subscriber to any of these services, you can still watch the Clemson vs Pitt game (or any ESPN broadcast) even if you’re not in front of your TV. The login information for your subscription service will give you access to the Watch ESPN app (available as an app on smart phones and tablets) or via the ESPN website.
ESPN Plus is not an option to watch college football broadcasts airing on ESPN’s main TV networks, as the streaming service only features its own exclusive games each week and does not offer simulcasts.
How to watch Clemson vs Pitt from anywhere in the world
While ESPN is readily available for American audiences, the sports network is not always so prevalent for the rest of the world. But if you have a rooting interest in the Clemson vs Pitt game while outside the U.S., you can still catch the ESPN broadcast of the game with a virtual private network, or VPN.
A VPN is designed to route network traffic through a specific set of servers in a specific country, allowing viewers to watch content on an encrypted feed over a computer.
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.