Clemson finds itself as rare underdog against No. 23 Pitt

When Clemson plays at Pittsburgh for the first time in program history on Saturday, it will do so as an underdog in an Atlantic Coast Conference game for the first time since the 2016 season.While Pitt (5-1, 2-0 ACC) has risen to No. 23 in the polls, unranked Clemson (4-2, 3-1), in turn, already has lost two regular-season games for the first time since 2014.Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi, however, isn’t buying the perception that the Tigers are a mere shell of their former self.”They’re obviously a great football team,” Narduzzi said. “I know they’re not tops in the country right now, but they are talented.”They’re one of the top scoring defenses in the country. They’re playing fantastic. (Defensive coordinator Brent) Venables has really got them going on defense.”Narduzzi is correct on that count. The Tigers are allowing a mere 12.5 points per game, which ranks second nationally, and have allowed only two rushing touchdowns this season.While Clemson’s defensive prowess isn’t in question, the Tigers’ offense has struggled mightily.Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who stood out in his two starts a year ago, is completing just 55.7 percent of his passes and Clemson’s replacements at running back and wide receiver for Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers, respectively, have been injury-plagued and have yet to establish themselves as consistent threats.Uiagalelei has four touchdown passes and three interceptions this season. His efficiency rating of 106.9 ranks last in the ACC.”The offense is missing Trevor Lawrence,” Narduzzi said. “But they’ve still got tons of players on the field who scare the heck out of you.”Clemson’s offense stands in stark contrast to Pitt. The Panthers rank third nationally in scoring at 48.3 points per game, with quarterback Kenny Pickett the catalyst.Pickett has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC, if not the nation. The fifth-year player ranks third nationally in passing efficiency and has 21 touchdown passes against one interception.