The Pitt Panthers have a lot on the line in this one. Their Big East hopes are still alive and well, and that will continue to be the case if they can manage to waltz into Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers of West Virginia at home on Friday.
Meanwhile, West Virginia has the same goal, as they also have a chance at the Big East crown and the BCS game that comes with it if they can finish their season with a win.
When: Friday, 7:00 PM EST
Where: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, WV
LINE: -6.5(West Virginia), O/U 57
Frankly, the Panthers are a team that really doesn’t seem to do anything well. Yet, somehow they manage to win football games.
For starters, they rank a meager 76th in passing yards per game at just over 200 per contest. A number that definitely jump off of the page at you. Especially when you toss in the fact that their starting quarterback has thrown almost as many interceptions as touchdowns (nine touchdowns to eight interceptions).
Their running offense is not that much better. They rank 59th in the country with over 150 yards per game. Then add into the mix that their star running back has not played in the last two games, and it’s no wonder their just .500 on the year.
Defensively, Pitt is has also seen its share of struggles, and is ranked 70th in the country in points allowed at just over 25. They are 38th in the country with their scoring defense, but the number is nearly 23 per game.
As for the Mountaineers, they are a team that is generally known for running the football in recent years, but that hasn’t been the case in 2011.
West Virginia is ranked 97th in rushing offense in the country this year, and unlike past Mountaineer football teams, they are only getting 117 yards on the ground per contest so far this season. This is usually a team that has two players that near the 1,000-yard marker on a regular basis. They won’t have a player even come close to that this year.
What they do have though is Geno Smith. The junior quarterback has had a year not seen by a West Virginia quarterback in quite a while. He is well over 3,000 yards on the season already, which is good for sixth in the country. He has thrown 24 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and 64.5 pass completion percentage this season.
Matt’s Prediction: West Virginia 31, Pittsburgh 20– It’s hard to envision Pittsburgh making much noise, let alone winning this game when you look at the two teams side by side. However, this is a game that always seems to be close not matter the disparity in talent. This is quite a big rivalry to these two, and a series that will end pretty soon as well after the two teams head to two different conferences in the coming years. Put your money on the Mountaineers here, as they should have just enough to see off the Panthers on Friday.