Over/Under 5.5 Wins () vs Pittsburgh Panthers ()Date : 09/01/2018
Time : Albany Great Danes vs. Pittsburgh Panthers 3:30 PM
Location : Heinz Field
Pick, Prediction, & Preview:
Over/Under 5.5 Wins vs Pittsburgh Panthers
The Pittsburgh Panthers may have had the most impressive win in college football last season as they beat the undefeated Miami Hurricanes at home but missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 2007. Pittsburgh will have to adjust under a new defensive coordinator this season as they were able to snag away the Northwestern linebackers coach in Randy Bates. The Panthers were able to figure out their quarterback of the future at the end of last season but they will need to figure who blocks for him as they will only return 2 starting offensive linemen. The offense will have to take strides in 2018 as they ranked 97th in total yards last season but given their newfound QB as well as a veteran-filled backfield the Panthers should be in good hands no matter what the situation is upfront. Pat Narduzzi is stuck in a bad situation in terms of recruiting as he has to battle with powerhouse Penn State for the top-notch recruits. Narduzzi ranked 46th in the nation in terms of his recruiting class as a whole but he was able to persuade the #5 running back in the nation to sign with Pitt over USC, Clemson, and Georgia. Pittsburgh luckily resides in the weaker ACC division as they are on the Coastal side but things won’t come easy for the Panthers given their schedule.
Over/Under 5.5 Wins's Latest Performance :
Pittsburgh seemed like they were awful last season but in retrospect, they were only 1 game under .500 as they finished with a 5-7 record, the worst season for this program since 2007 where they matched the 5-7 record. Pittsburgh has some uncertainty at the offensive line and receiver positions but they return some solid linebackers and a promising quarterback. Oddsmakers know Pat Narduzzi is a good coach and should improve the Panthers this season which resulted in the over/under being set at 5.5 wins.
Tough Non-Conference Schedule
Pittsburgh is trying to climb out of the hole they put themselves in last season but the Pittsburgh AD did the teams no favors as they will see one of the toughest non-conference schedules in football. Pittsburgh will play their traditional in-state rivalry game against Penn State and they will get them at home but Penn State should be just as good as years past this season. They will also have two other tough non-conference games and they will have to play them on the road as they will travel to both UCF and Norte Dame, two teams coming off great seasons. Pittsburgh was able to upset Miami at home last season but that won’t do much good this season as the Panthers will end their season down in Miami which should be a chippy matchup. Pittsburgh home ACC schedule is solid for the most part as they will welcome in Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and Duke.
Pittsburgh Panthers's Latest Performance :
Pittsburgh struggled offensively last season as they cycled 3 different quarterbacks in and out of the starting lineup but they were able to find their QB of the future in Kenny Pickett who led the Panthers to an upset over Miami in his true freshman season. Pickett may have only thrown for 509 yards last season but he showed the ability to move the ball as he led the Panthers on a beautiful drive at the end of the game which was capped by a 22 yard TD run from Pickett himself. Pickett will be supported by 2 senior running backs in Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison who combined for 1026 rushing yards and 14 TDs back in 2017. Pittsburgh will have to find some playmakers at receiver this year considering their two 500+ yard guys from 2017 ran out of eligibility. Maurice Ffrench is the lone starter returning for another season and the speedy slot will have to play a bigger role this season after racking up 272 yards in his sophomore season. Pittsburgh will also have to figure out who will block for Pickett considering they are missing 3 guys off their 2017 offensive line, one of which was an All-ACC selection. The defense may be returning 7 starters but they will need to learn a whole new scheme under their defensive coordinator which hopefully improves their pass defense which ranked in the bottom 25 last season. Narduzzi’s squad will return their best linebacker from 2017 in Oluwaseun Idowu who led the team in tackles (94), TFL (11.5), and sacks (5). Pittsburgh will also return another high-end pass rusher as they will bring back senior DL Dewayne Hendrix who led the team in QB hurries last season with 8. The secondary was shredded last year in the passing game but they will be able to insert a former 4-star recruit in Paris Ford into the lineup as he is coming off his redshirt season. Since the pass rush was weak last season it allowed for quarterbacks to maneuver around the pocket and find open receivers which ultimately killed the Panthers defense but expect a much better output in the new defensive coordinators’ scheme.
Player To Watch
Quintin Wirginis, LB, RS Sr.
Pittsburgh already has a solid linebacker corp as they combined for over 250 tackles last season but they will be even better this season with Wirginis coming back after using a redshirt last season. Quintin Wirginis missed all of 2017 with a non-football injury but Pittsburgh will get the best of the 6’2 linebacker this season. Wirginis showed potential to be good in his 2016 season where he compiled 4 sacks in a reserve linebacker role. Expect Wirginis to grow under Randy Bates as the former linebacker coach molded some All-American players while at Northwestern.
How Over/Under 5.5 Wins & Pittsburgh Panthers Matchup.
Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:
Over 5.5 -Even
Under 5.5 -120
In-Depth Analysis of each team:
9/1- Albany- W
9/8- Penn State- L
9/15- Georgia Tech- L
9/22- @ North Carolina- L
9/29- @ UCF- L
10/6- Syracuse- W
10/13- @ Norte Dame- L
10/27- Duke- L
11/2- @ Virginia- W
11/10- Virginia Tech- L
11/17- @ Wake Forest- W
11/24- @ Miami- L
Overall Record- 4-8
Against The Spread Selection: Under 5.5 Wins -120
My reason for the pick :
Pittsburgh will be going under some growing pains this season as they will be breaking in a bunch of new starters on the offensive side of the ball as well as a whole new scheme on the defensive side of the ball. As I stated Pittsburgh has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in football which outside of their matchup against FCS Albany the Panthers will fail to win a game. Pittsburgh has a new starting QB at the helm and although he was able to upset the undefeated Hurricanes last year Pickett will still have to learn his way especially against defenses like Penn State and Norte Dame. Pittsburgh will eventually get back to the postseason under Pat Narduzzi but this year they don’t have the talent to compete in the ACC. Take Pittsburgh under the 5.5 win total as they will fall way short.