Big East Against the Spread Picks: Pittsburgh Panthers at Louisville Cardinals

Pittsburgh Panthers at Louisville Cardinals
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
Saturday, November 12, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: SNY, MASN,
ESPN Game Plan
Opening Line: Louisville -3 (-115)
Current Line: Louisville -2 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 44 1/2
Current Total: 44
Opening Money Line: Louisville -140 / Pitt +120
Current Money Line: Louisville -140 / Pitt +120

Pittsburgh Panthers Football Picks
Pitt is a 2 1/2 point underdog on the road at Louisville in a key Big East game.

Though Louisville is only 5-4 this season, they are only a half game behind Cincinnati for first place in the Big East with a 3-1 conference record. The Cardinals host 4-5 Pittsburgh. The Panthers are 2-2 in the Big East. Pittsburgh is coached by Todd Graham, and has home wins over Buffalo 35-16, Maine 35-29, South Florida 44-17, and UConn 35-20. The Panthers have road losses at Iowa 31-27, and Rutgers 34-10, along with home losses to Notre Dame 15-12, Utah 26-14, and last week against Cincinnati 26-23.  Louisville is coached by Charlie Strong, and has home wins over Murray St 21-9, Rutgers 16-14, and Syracuse 27-10, along with road wins at Kentucky 24-17, and last week at West Virginia 38-35. The Cardinals have won 3 games in a row, which followed a 3 game losing streak. The West Virginia game was the first time there were more than 41 total points in a Louisville game this season. The Cardinals have home losses to Florida International 24-17 and  Marshall 17-13, along with road losses at North Carolina 14-7 and Cincinnati 25-16. The series is tied 7-7 between Pitt and Louisville, but Pitt has won 3 straight by an average margin of 25 points, including 20-3 last year in Pittsburgh.

Last week Pitt hosted Cincinnati in a battle for the River City Rivalry trophy. Pitt took a 23-13 lead early in the third quarter but Cincinnati scored the last 13 points in the game to win 26-23, but the Bearcats didn’t cover the 3.5 point spread on the college football betting line. Cincinnati kicked a field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter and neither team scored for the rest of the game. Each team had 2 turnovers in the game. Pitt had 397 yards including 179 rushing yards. Panther quarterback Tino Sunseri threw for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Devin Street had 8 catches for 118 yards. Cincinnati had 366 total yards including 152 rushing yards.

Pitt has averaged 369 yards a game including 154.1 rushing yards and 214.9 passing yards this season. Pitt is scoring 26.1 points a game.  The Panthers have allowed 39 sacks and have 16 turnovers so far this season. They are 47/138 on third and fourth downs this season and 29/31 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns. On defense Pitt has allowed 364 yards, including 123.4 rushing yards and 240.6 passing yards a game. The Panthers are allowing 23.8 points a game.  They have forced 9 turnovers and 29 sacks this season. Pittsburgh opponents are 53/157 on third and fourth down conversions, and 23/27 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns. Pitt has 3 special teams touchdowns this season.

Sunseri is 175/278 passing with 1,841 yards, 8 touchdowns and and 8 interceptions so far this season, along with 98 carries for 115 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. Back-up Trey Anderson has 3 interceptions in his 33 attempts, but is out indefinitely with a wrist injury. Ray Graham was the star of the offense with 164 carries for 958 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 30 catches for 200 yards. He is out for the season with a torn ACL. Zach Brown has 52 carries for 183 yards, and 4 touchdowns along with 22 catches for 174 yards. Street has 33 catches, 471 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Mike Shanahan (no relation to the Redskins coach of the same name) has 27 catches for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hubie Graham has 22 catches for 258 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Cameron Saddler has 19 catches for 207 yards and 1 touchdown. He is also out for the season with a broken sternum.  Kicker Kevin Harper has made 24 of 25 extra points and has made  13 out of 20 field goals. He has a long of 52 yards. The Panthers have 8 players out for the season including 4 skill position players and 2 offensive linemen.

Louisville was a 12.5 point underdog last week at West Virginia. The two teams were tied at 21 at halftime. Early in the fourth quarter, Louisville was up 24-21 when West Virginia drove deep into the red zone. The drive stalled at the 6 and West Virginia attempted a game tying 23 yard field goal. Louisville blocked it and ran it back 82 yards for a touchdown to go up 31-21. That proved to be the difference in the game as Louisville pulled off the upset 38-35. West Virginia had 2 turnovers and Louisville had one. The Cardinals had 351 total yards including 105 rushing yards. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 246 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked 4 times. Running back Dominique Brown rushed for 69 yards with a touchdown, and had 3 catches for 32 yards. Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry also had a rushing touchdown each. Receiver Eli Rogers had 5 catches, 63 yards and a touchdown. West Virginia had 533 yards including 410 passing yards.

Louisville is averaging 332 yards and 19.9 points a game. The Cardinals are averaging 210.7 yards passing and 121.3 rushing yards a game. Louisville has 13 turnovers and has allowed 29 sacks this season. Louisville is 54/137 on third and fourth down conversions  this season, and 17/22 scoring in the red zone with 12 touchdowns. Louisville is allowing 322 total yards and 18.3 points a game. The Cardinals are allowing 100.2 rushing yards and 221.8 passing yards a game. Louisville has forced 26 sacks and 11 turnovers this season. Cardinal opponents are 54/137 on third and fourth down conversions, and 20/26 scoring in the red zone with 14 touchdowns. Louisville has 2 defensive/special teams touchdown this season.The Cardinals average just under 8 penalties for 61 yards a game.

Bridgewater is 116/177 passing for 1,275 yards, 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 53 carries for 17 yards and a touchdown. Former starting quarterback Will Stein is 51/83 passing with 621 yards, 5 touchdowns and an interception along with 23 carries for 4 yards. Stein missed two games and hasn’t played since. He is not listed on the injury report. Bridgewater is more mobile than Stein and can escape more sacks behind the leaky offensive line. Running back Dominique Brown has 94 carries for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown catch. Victor Anderson has 62 carries for 321 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Wright has 66 carries for 313 yards and a touchdown, and 5 catches for 23 yards. Receiver Michaelee Harris has 28 catches, 372 yards and 2 touchdowns. Josh Chichester has 23 catches for 318 yards and one touchdown. Rogers has 26 catches, 293 yards, and a touchdown.  DaVante Parker has 13 catches, 222 yards and 4 touchdowns. Josh Bellamy has 16 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.  Kicker Chris Philpott is 20/22 on extra points and is 9/13 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. Cornerback Darius Ashley is suspended indefinitely, and another corner Anthony Conner is out for the season with a neck injury.

Louisville is 6-3 against the spread and the total is 1-7-1 this season. Pittsburgh is 4-5 ATS this season and the total is also 4-5 in those games. Pitt has won and covered 2 straight against Louisville and both games went under the total. The Panthers are 13-3 ATS after a straight up loss, 4-1 in conference, 8-2 against teams with winning records, 3-1-1 as an underdog, 0-3-2 as a road dog, including 0-3-1 as an underdog of 3 points or less. The Cardinals are 5-0 ATS in conference games and overall, 4-0 after a cover and on turf, 7-2 as a home favorite of  3 points or less, 6-2 as a favorite of 3 points or less, 4-10 at home, and 1-4 at home against teams with losing road records.

Neither one of these teams is very good on offense, and both have really good defenses. Yes, I know Louisville exploded for 38 points last week and gave up 35 points, but that more a of a fluke that can be attributed to West Virginia’s weak defense and mistakes. I think the game itself is a coin flip but I do like the under in this game.

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  1. Wrong. Louisville and the over, Rover. It’s senior day and much is on the line. Your analysis doesn’t factor this and the fact UL got trounced after the last big win. Charlie won’t let that happen again.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Chet. All I am saying, is there is so much parity in the Big East this year, except for perhaps Cincinnati. Even the Bearcats could lose this week against West Virginia. As far as the total, I stick by my under prediction. Until last week, Louisville hadn’t scored more than 27 in any game or given up more than 25.

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