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CFB: Big East Battle Set for Thurdsday

CFB: Big East Battle Set for Thurdsday


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CFB: Big East Battle Set for Thurdsday

It’s a Big East prime time battle for Pittsburgh (3-1, 0-4 ATS) and South Florida (5-0, 1-3) and given the state of affairs in the conference, anything is possible. South Florida’s non-conference schedule ended being much strenuous than what they hoped fo


2008-10-03

It’s a Big East prime time battle for Pittsburgh (3-1, 0-4 ATS) and South Florida (5-0, 1-3) and given the state of affairs in the conference, anything is possible. South Florida’s non-conference schedule ended being much strenuous than what they hoped for, going to overtime at Central Florida, a barnburner at home against Kansas, a dud effort at Florida International, followed by a nice 41-10 comeback effort at N.C. State. What has been lacking is a commit to playing 60 minutes and a killer instinct for the Bulls. South Florida allowed 14 fourth-quarter points to both Kansas and UCF before prevailing and allowed nine points in the final three minutes to FIU, to make a comfortable 17-0 game a nail-biter, having to recover an onside kick to preserve the win at 29.5-point favorites. The Bulls return home where they are 12-2 since 2006 and respectable 14-8 ATS since 2001 as home favorite.

With Dave Wannstedt as your coach nothing comes easy. The Pittsburgh head coach raised his record to 20-20 (16-20 ATS) with a shaky come from behind 34-24 win over stammering Syracuse last week. After being upset by Bowling Green in the opening game, the Panthers have won three in a row, failing to cover the spread once this season. Pittsburgh is 7-18 ATS in road games after two or more consecutive losses against the spread. Running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy is the reason for almost all Pitt’s offensive success. Though not on pace for the same numbers as freshman, he’s developed into a more multi-dimensional performer, with opponents focusing in on him. Quarterback Bob Stull has serious limitations as athlete and passer and really needs to manage Panthers attack and not make miscues.

Pittsburgh has been good defensively, ranking 32nd overall in total defense. The Panthers have allowed 306.5 yards per game, which is quite favorable, since these teams have average 350 yards per game. Defensive ends Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard are studs up front and lead a defense that is seventh in the country in sacks. Pittsburgh is 9-2 ATS playing in October and needs to play extremely physical and determine how the Bulls respond.

South Florida has played much weaker offensive teams, making their ranking of the eighth best defense in the country inflated (240 YPA vs opponents avr. 265 YPG). Nothing inflated about the ability of the Bulls defensive line, led by George Selvie, which has taken away opponents running game, holding them to 58.8 yards per game. USF is 9-4 ATS after giving up 20 or less points.

Junior quarterback Matt Grothe is maturing this season. He’s always been able to make big plays, yet coupled them with several mistakes. This season he’s making better decisions and not forcing as many plays. South Florida is 12-5 ATS after registering 450 or more yards a game.

Sportsbook.com has the Bulls as 13.5-point home favorite, with total of 49. This appears to be right in South Florida’s wheel-house, listing an 8-0 ATS record as a home favorite of 7.5 to 14 points. Coach Jim Leavitt’s teams have tended to play a looser on a short week with 9-1 OVER mark.

Given Wannstedt’s record, it’s of little surprise he is 11-11 and 10-11-1 ATS in the Big East in three previous seasons. Pittsburgh has not handled this whole weekday arrangement well, posting a 2-6 straight up and ATS record, which includes a 48-45 double overtime loss to Navy last season as four-point favorites.

With South Florida favored, take notice the favorite is 3-1 against the spread since they joined this conference and the Bulls are 6-1 ATS at home the last two seasons. ESPN will have the coverage, with kickoff approximately at 7:45 Eastern and USF is 9-2 ATS in home games after a game where they forced three or more turnovers

StatFox Forecaster – Pittsburgh covers
StatFox Power Line –South Florida by 21
Outplay Factor – South Florida by 6

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