Pittsburgh Panthers and West Virginia Mountaineers Meet in Backyard Brawl in Morgantown

Pittsburgh Panthers at West Virginia Mountaineers
Mountaineer Field – Morgantown, West Virginia
Friday, November 25, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: West Virginia -8
Current Line: West Virginia -6 1/2
Opening Total: 56
Current Total: 57
Opening Money Line: WVU -290 / Pitt +245
Current Money Line: WVU -250 / Pitt +210

West Virginia hosts archrival Pittsburgh in their annual Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers are 6 1/2 point favorites. Both teams can still win the Big East title.

To say the Big East is wide open would be a massive understatement. Every team has at least 2 conference losses and 5 teams are either tied for first or within a half game of first place. Both 5-5 Pitt and 7-3 West Virginia are 3-2 in conference as they meet in their annual “Backyard Brawl.” This is basically an elimination game as well for both teams for the conference title and the lucrative BCS bowl bid that comes with it. Both Pitt and West Virginia are led by first year coaches. Todd Graham coaches the Panthers and Dana Holgorsen coaches the Mountaineers. Pitt needs to win either this game or beat Syracuse next week to be bowl eligible. In a series that dates back to 1895, Pitt leads the overall series against West Virginia 61-39-3 including 22-17-3 in Morgantown. West Virginia won last year in Pittsburgh 35-10. This could potentially be the last meeting between the schools as West Virginia is moving to the Big 12 as early as next season and Pittsburgh and Syracuse will move to the ACC in the next couple of years.

Pitt was a 3 point underdog two weeks ago at Louisville on the college football betting line. The Panthers took a 7-0 halftime lead. The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter, and both teams scored touchdowns with less than 2 minutes left in the game to make the final 21-14 Pitt. Each team had 2 turnovers in the game. The Panthers had 396 total yards including 200 rushing yards. Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri threw for 196 yards and a touchdown, and added 31 yards rushing on 14 carries with a touchdown. Running back Zach Brown had 15 carries for 86 yards. Isaac Bennett had 13 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Devin Street had 6 catches for 101 yards. Mike Shanahan had 3 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Louisville had 280 total yards including 115 rushing yards.

Pitt has averaged 371.7 yards a game including 158.7 rushing yards and 213 passing yards this season. Pitt is scoring 25.6 points a game.  The Panthers have allowed 42 sacks and have 18 turnovers so far this season. They are 54/152 on third and fourth downs this season and 32/35 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns. On defense Pitt has allowed 355.6 yards, including 122.6 rushing yards and 233 passing yards a game. The Panthers are allowing 22.8 points a game.  They have forced 11 turnovers and 32 sacks this season. Pittsburgh opponents are 57/169 on third and fourth down conversions, and 24/28 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns. Pitt has 3 special teams touchdowns this season.

Sunseri is 191/300 passing with 2,037 yards, 9 touchdowns and and 8 interceptions so far this season, along with 112 carries for 146 yards and 4 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. Brown has 67 carries for 269 yards, and 4 touchdowns along with 24 catches for 180 yards. Street has 39 catches, 572 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Mike Shanahan (no relation to the Redskins coach of the same name) has 30 catches for 395 yards and 4 touchdowns. Hubie Graham has 24 catches for 281 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 27 of 28 extra points and has made  13 out of 21 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.

West Virginia was a 3 point underdog two weeks ago at Cincinnati. Cincinnati scored first to take a 7-0 lead. West Virginia scored 17 unanswered points before halftime. Cincinnati took a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers retook the lead with just under 9 minutes to go 24-21 and neither team scored for the rest of the game. Cincinnati tried a 31 yard field goal as time expired but it was blocked. It was the second miss of the day for Cincinnati. The Bearcats had 2 turnovers including a fumble recovered in the end zone by West Virginia for a touchdown in the second quarter. West Virginia had a turnover and 14 penalties for 95 yards. The Mountaineers had 404 total yards including 372 passing yards from quarterback Geno Smith who threw a touchdown pass. Smith was sacked 5 times. Running back Shawne Alston had a rushing touchdown. Receiver Tavon Austin had 9 catches for 126 yards. Stedman Bailey had 6 catches, 104 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Tyler Bitancurt missed 2 out of 3 field goals he attempted. Cincinnati had 404 total yards including 190 rushing yards. Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros broke his ankle in the first half.

The Mountaineers are averaging 479.4 yards a game, including 362.1 passing yards and 117.3 rushing yards. West Virginia is #13 in total offense the passing game is ranked #6 in the country. West Virginia is averaging 36.8 points, which is #16 in college football. West Virginia has 15 turnovers and has allowed 21 sacks. The Mountaineers are 64/151 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/49 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. West Virginia is allowing 339.1 total yards a game, including 203.2 passing yards a game. WVU allows 135.9 rushing yards a game.   The Mountaineers are allowing 26.8 points a game. The Mountaineers have forced 16 turnovers and 16 sacks. West Virginia opponents are 60/165 on third and fourth down conversions, and 31/38 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns. The Mountaineers have 3 defensive/special teams touchdowns, but have given up 5.

Smith is 269/417 passing (64.5% completion), for 3,497 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Running back Dustin Garrison has 109 carries, 600 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 183 yards. Alston has 61 carries, 298 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Vernard Roberts has 44 carries, 140 yards,  and 3 scores, along with 4 catches. Roberts missed the last 5 games but isn’t listed on the injury report.  Andrew Buie has 38 carries, 127 yards, and a touchdown, along with 9 catches. Bailey has 57 catches, 1,037 yards, and 10 touchdowns.  Austin has 72 catches, 907 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 8 carries, 110 yards and a rushing touchdown. Austin has just under 2,000 all purpose yards for the Mountaineers, and also has a kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Ivan McCartney has 46 catches, 556 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Tyler Urban has 2 touchdown catches, and Brad Starks has 4. Bitancurt is 45/47 on extra points and 13/18 on field goals with a long of 45 yards. Linebacker Josh Rigg and offensive lineman Josh Jenkins are both out for the season.

West Virginia is 5-5 against the spread and the total is 8-2 this season. Pitt is 5-5 ATS and the total is 4-6 this season. West Virginia has won and covered 2 straight against Pittsburgh. The Panthers are 4-0 ATS as an underdog, 9-2 against teams with winning records, 4-1 after a cover, 16-5 in conference games, 5-2 in Friday games, and overall, 5-2-1 on turf, 4-9 after a bye week, 2-5 after a straight up win, and after allowing 20 points or less, 1-3-2 as a road underdog, and 3-10-1 as a road dog of between 3.5 and 10 points. The Mountaineers are 6-1 ATS in November, 5-1 as a favorite of between 3.5 and 10 points, including 4-1 at home, 6-2-1 in conference games, 5-2 after a bye week, 2-5-1 after a straight up win, 1-3-1 after a cover, and 1-4 in Friday games.

Pitt can’t get into a shootout with West Virginia and must control the clock with their running game. Both teams have decent defenses, but West Virginia’s offense is much more explosive. West Virginia opened as an 8 point favorite but were bet down to -6 1/2. The Mountaineers can beat a depleted Pitt team by a touchdown.

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