Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday, September 10, 2016 – 12:00 PM EDT
Where: HEINZ FIELD
by KEITH, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PSU +6/PITT -6
Over/Under Total: 48
The Keystone State is divided. Rekindling the embers of a roaring intrastate blaze, the Nittany Lions of Pennsylvania State University and the Panthers of the University of Pittsburgh will renew a feud that has not been played out in over fifteen years. The West against the East, both programs are revered tradition-oriented teams that look to make a splash early in 2016 with a win in a Big 10/ACC showdown. The game is set to be nationally telecasted on ESPN with a 12:00 PM kick-off.
In the next chapter, the Panthers get to curate the festivities at Heinz Field, a venue where Pitt has menaced the multitudes. The home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, this environment is not unfamiliar with getting loud and audacious. Panther faithful are comprised of the same flock that wave “The Terrible Towel” and their presence has been felt in many instrumental affairs taking place on the Panthers gridiron in many years past. Fact of the matter is, Pitt has been an insistent thorn in the side of any visitor that has come to the Steel City. Wins simply do not come easy here. Case and point, both North Carolina and Notre Dame who had to go toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh in to the fourth quarter before they could get away with a W. Pittsburgh was also responsible for the defeat of Louisville, where the Panthers would dictate and win 45-34, despite being a marginalized pooch.
Most of Pittsburgh’s achievements are kept on the hush. Overall Pittsburgh is a football team that keeps a low profile and thus they are not often found on nationally televised games. Teams with this lack of visibility are likely to have less of the public engaged or focused on them. On the contrary, Penn State is one of the most revered programs in all of college football.
Many may look at this market and say how is Penn State a pooch? Very simple, the Panthers have a bull lining up at tail back in James Conner. Mirroring Panther fashion, the 6’2, 235-pound running back stealthly rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2014 despite boasting extraordinary achievements. After a year of exile, James is back and “The Terminator” is ready to run and sprint in to the fold as a potential Heisman contender. Conner is back on top and at the reigns of the Panthers rushing attack. The Pittsburgh secret weapon will likely be see an enhanced workload as The Terminator be the prime weapon deployed against Penn State on Saturday. To Conner’s credit he found the end zone on the ground and through the air on Saturday against Villanova scoring twice.
As for Penn State, they are likely going to cost players an arm and leg to back. Look no further than how Penn State came in to their opening match-up with Kent State. The Lions opened as an 18 point favorite, they closed as a 22.5 point favorite and failed to cover. Nothing says overhyped better than this reaction, response and result. James Franklin has this program going in the righ direction in terms of recruiting but the Nittany Lions still have a long way to go. As for Pittsburgh, they know who they are and they know their gameplan. When the Panthers execute, they execute flawlessly and seem unstoppable.
Pitt’s strategy is one that can cause fits for Franklin and company as Penn State is 1-3 in their last four road games and they have suffered terribly against any football team that enjoys running the football. For those that require an illustrated example, examine the three most recent Penn State opponents that characterize themselves run-first and run-often teams, Ohio State, Michigan State and Georgia. The Nittany Lions are 0-3 against these three teams and have surrendered 24 points or more in each of their encounters with the aforementioned. Pittsburgh employs a similar style of play and they get Penn State out of Happy Valley, combining these two narratives may be a very haunting proposition for the Nittany Lions. Do not be taken back if the Panthers lay the wood to the Nittany Lions.
KEITH’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: PITT -6
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