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Pittsburgh vs. Utah Preview, Prediction, Pick Against the Spread

Posted by in College Football Picks on August 7th, 2010 | Comment »
Dion Lewis

Dion Lewis looks to start the season by running wild on the Utes.

The football season is almost upon us. Training camps are in full-mode — injuries are popping up, rookies are developing, and preseason games are about to get underway. Although I cannot wait for the NFL to begin, we get an early start with college football the week prior to the NFL season kicking off.  Although betting on preseason football games is nothing more than a coin toss, week 1 of college football is when good money can always me made.

We start the season on Thursday, September 2. The game of the day in terms of viewing (as opposed betting on) is the Pittsburgh Panthers (+3.5) @ Utah Utes, which I imagine will be broadcasted on ABC or ESPN at the 8:30 time slot, which will be followed by USC (-19) @ Hawaii on ESPN at 11:00.

Both teams last year were BCS contenders and both teams finished the season with 10-3 records.  Impressive by all means. Pitt finished 17th in the final BCS standings while Utah wound up 24th.  Pitt’s defense was their main strength with the 19th best defense in the league. Utah was best known for their potent offense, which ranked 34th in the nation and averaged 29.8 PPG.

The player to watch in this game is none other than emerging RB Dion Lewis, who was a yard shy of an 1800-yard season last year. Dion piled up 18 TDs in his freshman year. In his sophomore year, he is going to tear up the NCAA. Against a Utah defense that is returning just 4 starters, I’m smelling trouble for a young defense that gave up 138 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked 53rd in the nation.

In Utah’s defense, they have a solid offense that will be led this year by sophomore QB Jordan Wynn. Wynn took the reigns halfway through last year. Utah also boasts about two stellar RBs, Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata.  Against a top defense like Pittsburgh, I see Wynn struggling against a unit that has an experienced linebacking corp and secondary along with top pass rusher Greg Romeus (a potential first-round pick). Although Wynn thew for some good numbers, his 50% passing completion percentage isn’t going to get it done in this one like he averaged the last three games of the year. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they don’t have the luxury of a top QB either with Bill Stull now gone (2600 yards, 21 TDs last season). Tino Sunseri will have to rely a lot on Lewis this game to deliver a W for Pitt. However, look for WR Jonathan Baldwin (1111 yards last season) to help out the young fella. Pittsburgh’s not worried about Sunserri though — he was almost their starter last season and he’s gained the confidence of his teammates. You also have to keep in mind that Pitt’s O-line will see 3 new faces so let’s hope they and Dion Lewis develop a good rapport this offseason.

The bottom line here: You’re getting a much better defense with Pittsburgh. Utah needs their offense to carry them through this game since the Utah defense will give up a lot of yards and points to Dion Lewis. As good as Utah’s offense may be, I don’t think they’ll be able to outscore Pittsburgh here. Pittsburgh will control the clock with their run game and strong defense, which makes the +3 very favorable in this one. However, Utah has the more experienced QB and that may be a problem for Pitt, who has to rely on Sunseri, who will be making his first start on the road. However, Pittsburgh just needs to keep the game plan simple. Lots of handoffs to Lewis and short passes. Build the kids confidence up and rely on your D. Utah’s D is nothing to be scared of. Sunseri can get the job done and Dion Lewis should be the star in this one.

Expect to see a lot of #28. Get familiar with this phenom. Next Chris Johnson some may say? Take a look below.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 – Utah 20

Pick Against the Spread: Pittsburgh +3.5 (Confidence: 2.5/5)

Notes: I like Pittsburgh here, but it’s a road game and they have an inexperienced QB, which has me scale back my confidence in Dion Lewis and company. Utah is a solid team. I’m also a Pennsylvania native, so home-state bias is a factor here.

Who do you think will win the Pitt vs. Utah game?

  • Pitt (67%, 233 Votes)
  • Utah (33%, 117 Votes)

Total Voters: 350

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