(7-5, 6-4-2 ATS)
(6-6, 6-6 ATS)
Rivals from the SEC and the Big East collide at Legion Field in Birmingham for an NCAA football betting affair, as the Pitt Panthers duke it out with the Kentucky Wildcats in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
The Panthers are really in flux right now. Head Coach Dave Wannstedt has left the program, while the man that was hired to replace him, Mike Haywood, was dismissed over the weekend for suspected domestic violence charges. The good thing that this team does have going for it is that these two running backs, Dion Lewis and Ray Graham, are fantastic. The two have combined for 1,788 yards and 20 TDs this year, and the two will both have their chance to get to the 1,000 yard mark for the season in this one. They’ll both probably be back next year, as will QB Tino Sunseri, who has done well in his first year as a starter, throwing for 2,476 yards and 15 TDs against just eight INTs. Defensively, this team was very, very impressive this year in spite of the fact that arguably its best player, DE Greg Romeus, hasn’t played for the majority of the year. Even though the Big East didn’t provide that much of a challenge, holding 12 teams to an average of 298.6 yards and 19.87 points per game is definitely noteworthy.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats have issues of their own to deal with. QB Mike Hartline had a fantastic year in the first campaign for Head Coach Joker Phillips, throwing for 3,178 yards and 23 TDs this year. However, he has been suspended for his final game as a senior, which only leaves QB Morgan Newton to do the work behind him. Newton, just a sophomore, threw just seven passes for the season, and he is going to be thrown into the mix in a hurry. The good news is that he has a great option to throw to in WR Randall Cobb, who does a little bit of everything for the Cats. Cobb does have the ability to run all over the place, as we saw all season long with his Wildcat looks. The young man rushed for 401 yards and five TDs on the campaign. He also threw 10 passes, and it almost seemed like a trick when he did put the pigskin in the air. He threw for 58 yards and three TDs. Cobb was also the team’s top receiver with 79 catches, 955 yards, and seven scores. RB Derrick Locke is inevitably going to see the ball at least 15 times in this one as the team’s leading rusher, accounting for 816 yards and 10 scores.
The Panthers are just a wreck right now, and though the Wildcats aren’t really in that much better shape, we do think that the wrong team is favored in this one. Don’t be shocked if the combination of Locke and Cobb go absolutely crazy on this U-Pitt defense. Motivation should be very key, and it should be something that UK has, and U-Pitt doesn’t.
BBVA Compass Bowl Free Pick: Kentucky Wildcats +3