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Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia Pick Against the Spread

Posted by in College Football Picks on November 27th, 2009 | Comment »

PITTSBURGH PANTHERS @ WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

Tonight we are treated to the Backyard Brawl at 7:00 on ESPN.  Pittsburgh seeks to get their 10th win of the season and secure a spot in a BCS Standings if they are able to get a win.  A lot of people like the Panthers in this one due to the low spread and I think that is the play to make in this one, but I’m always hesitant to bet on the road team in a big rivalry game.  That’s mostly because I attended this game in 2003 when WVU waxed Pitt 54-31.  2003 was a long time ago though!  Pittsburgh has won this battle the last two years.  Last year they won the game in Pittsburgh 19-15 and the year before that Pitt won 13-9 when it was played in West Virginia.  That is probably why so many people like the under 48.5 in this game.

Both teams bread and butter is their running game.  That is how they win football games.  However, on the other side of the ball, each of these team’s strength is their rushing defense.  Due to that factor, I think you’ll see a lot of stops on third down, which will lead to more punting and less scoring, which makes the under 48.5 looks like the play to make there.  Both of these teams can score though.  Pitt averages 33.8 PPG and WVU averages 27.6 PPG, which is why you’re seeing a high over/under for this game.  The defenses allow a combined 38.2 points though.  Pitts gives up an average of 17.6 PPG, while WVU gives up an average of 21.2.  Each of these teams’ last two games have gone under.  6/9 of Pitt’s games have gones under and 4/9 of WVU’s games have gone under.

Based on how these these teams are playing defense, I like the under.  WVU held the high-scoring Cincinnati offense to a mere 24 points last week, and that was on the road.  Very impressive performance from WVU last week.  Pitt has also held their opponent to less than 24 points in their last 6 games.  With WVU allowing just 120 rushing yards per game and Pitt allowing just 100 rushing yards per game, I think that bodes well for the under here.  Noel Devine is also playing a bit banged up for WVU.  But you also have to keep in mind that you have two offenses that can score points very, very quickly, so if there are some quick scores or even a kickoff return for a TD, that over may end up hitting.

8/11 experts at Covers.com are picking the under and 9/12 are taking Pittsburgh.

I’m expecting this game to be a tight, defensive tussle.  I think Pitt wins in a close one, just a couple points shy of the over.  Would a 31-28 shootout surprise me? No. But the facts tell me to expect more defense in this one.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 – West Virginia 20

Free Picks: Pittsburgh (Confidence: 2.5/5) (L), Under 48.5 (Confidence: 3/5) (W), 7-Point Teaser: Pittsburgh +7, Under 55 (Confidence: 3.5/5) (W)

Update: I’m playing the teaser here. The spread moved to a pick ’em, so I took the liberty of taking Pitt starting the game with the 7-0 lead (Pitt +7) and counting on under 55 points.

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