College Football Picks: Pitt at UConn Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/11/2010
Officials at the Big East Conference, of course, aren’t supposed to root for one of their teams if they are playing another Big East foe. But I guarantee you that both conference officials and BCS officials are big University of Pittsburgh fans in Thursday night’s ESPN game at Connecticut.
Here’s why: Pitt completely controls its own destiny in terms of winning the conference as it is 3-0 and every other team has two losses. Not at least two losses, but exactly two losses (Big East is a joke). The Panthers' two-game cushion is the largest margin enjoyed by any of the BCS league or division leaders right now and the Big East doesn't have a championship game.
The Big East and BCS both have to pray that Pitt wins out and at least finishes 9-3 overall and 7-0 in the conference – that no doubt would be enough to get the Panthers ranked. Right now, there’s not a single conference team that is sniffing the Top 25. It would be very embarrassing to have an unranked team get an automatic BCS bid.
Pitt has dominated in its three conference games, scoring a total of 106 points and beating Syracuse, Rutgers and Louisville by a combined 68 points. But starting with this game, the Panthers finish with three of their final four on the road and the one home game is against their biggest rival, West Virginia, in the Backyard Brawl.
UConn enters off a 16-13 win over those Mountaineers in QB Zach Frazer’s first start in weeks after he suffered a head injury. The job is his again over redshirt freshman Mike Box.
Pitt has won two in a row in this series but is 1-2 all-time at UConn’s Rentschler Field.
Pittsburgh at Connecticut Predictions: Team Breakdowns
This game probably comes down to what UConn running back Jordan Todman can do against the Pitt rush defense. Todman leads the Big East and ranks fourth nationally with 136.29 rushing yards per game. The Panthers are yielding only 93.75 yards per game on the ground to rank first in the league and eighth nationally.
That Panther defense could get back one of the best pass rushers in the nation in 2009 Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year Greg Romeus. The defensive end has not played since a season-opening loss to Utah and he underwent back surgery Sept. 16. Romeus long targeted this game for his return but it was thought that was a little overly optimistic. But he has been practicing for more than a week and Coach Dave Wannstedt says Romeus will be a game-time decision. He would make an already excellent defensive line that much better.
His replacement, Brandon Lindsey, has eight sacks, second in the conference to teammate Jabaal Sheard's nine. Lindsey also ranks second in the Big East in tackles for a loss. So expect a rotation even when Romeus is back.
The Pitt offense has way more weapons than UConn. QB Tino Sunseri has ably replaced Bill Stull, throwing for 1,672 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has seven TD passes in the past three games and just one pick. The Panthers also have an excellent two-headed monster at running back in Ray Graham (685 yards) and Dion Lewis (497), and a likely 2011 first-round NFL choice in WR Jonathan Baldwin (33 catches, 546 yards, four TDs).
Pittsburgh at Connecticut Betting Odds
Pitt is a 5.5-point favorite with the total at 46.5, according to college football odds. Currently the Panthers are getting a near 65 percent lean. The line opened at 6.5 and the total at 47. Pitt is 4-2-2 ATS this season while UConn is 4-4 but 4-0 at home.
Pittsburgh at Connecticut Betting Trends
The Panthers are 5-1 ATS in their past six road games as a favorite
UConn is 7-1 ATS in its past eight at home as a dog
The ‘over’ is 13-3 in UConn’s past 16 home games
The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings
Pittsburgh at Connecticut College Football Picks
This seems like a cakewalk for Pitt, but this stat concerns me: The Panthers are 2-7 under Wannstedt while coming off a bye, including a 31-3 loss to Miami earlier this season. Clearly the Huskies are a different club at home. And I would argue that UConn is the best team Pitt has played since the Panthers were stomped by Miami (Syracuse fans might argue that).
I think Pitt wins but by a field goal. Take the Huskies and the ‘under’.
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