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Thursday Night Pick: South Florida over Pittsburgh

Posted by in College Football Picks on September 27th, 2011 | Comment »

South Florida vs. Pittsbugh Free Pick ATSSOUTH FLORIDA BULLS (-2.5) @ PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

Thursday night presents itself with a nice betting opportunity when Thursday Night Football features a week 5 Big East matchup between the South Florida Bulls (4-0, 3-1 ATS) visiting the Pittsburgh Panthers (2-2, 1-3 ATS).

The Bulls come into this game ranked 14th in the nation. They have been extremely impressive so far this season, starting out by beating Notre Dame on the road 23-20. Notre Dame came into Pittsburgh last week and escaped with a 15-12 win. Since the Bulls week 1 stunner over the Fighting Irish, the Bulls have demolished Mickey Mouse opponents in Ball State, Florida A&M, and UTEP by winning those contests 37-7, 70-17, and 52-24.

I have not been impressed with Pittsburgh this season. The Panthers barely beat Maine and lost against Iowa 31-27 by blowing a 27-10 lead. How do you give up 3 unanswered touchdowns in the 4th quarter? Pittsburgh managed to do it.

Pittsburgh’s offense has been simply average. While the running game gets going at times with RB Ray Graham, QB Tino Sunseri is average at best, and fails to stretch the field with the deep ball. I expect the Bulls to key in on Graham and force Sunseri to beat them with his arm. Sunseri’s 4 TD/4 INT season doesn’t instill confidence in Pittsburgh fans. I have much more faith in the dual-threat senior QB B.J. Daniels. The Bulls have been on fire all season long, albeit against 3 weak opponents.

When these teams faced each other last season, Pitt ended up winning 17-10 as 3-point favorites on the road. South Florida QB B.J. Daniels struggled against Pittsburgh — 15/29, 132 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, and 6 rushes for -5 yards. That’s an ugly stat line. Pittsburgh has taken a huge step back this season though. Pittsburgh couldn’t really move the ball either with Sunseri limited to 142 yards on 16 attempts and Pittsburgh going 2-for-9 on 3rd down. If it wasn’t for a 22-yard TD run by Dion Lewis in the 4th quarter (now with the Philadelphia Eagles), the Bulls could have pulled off the win.

The Bulls are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games. Pittsburgh is 10-1 ATS following a loss in their last 11, but are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 on Thursday night. I’m not one for trends though, I’ll simply stick with the Bulls who have the offense to outscore the Panthers.

Free Pick: South Florida Bulls -2.5 (Confidence: 3/5)

Prediction: South Florida 27 – Pittsburgh 20

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