Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Pittsburgh Panthers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Thursday September 6th, 2012. 8:00PM Eastern
Where:Nippert Stadium Cincinnati, O.H
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: Pitt Panthers +3/Cincinnati Bearcats -3
Over/Under Total: OFF

The opening week of college football did not disappoint as surprises sprang up around the nation. Several highly ranked teams around the country struggled in openers as teams attempted to overcome opening week jitters. While there were not any surprising upsets among highly ranked teams, one of the biggest upsets in the nation last week surrounded Youngstown State’s 31-17 shocker over the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. The Panthers, two years removed from grabbing a share of the Big East Championship, were hoping to have an improved season following a 6-7 campaign in 2011 with new head coach Paul Chryst at the helm. Instead it appeared the Panthers’ were just as inexperienced as their head coach.

Chryst suspended several players prior to kickoff for disciplinary reasons and on-lookers could visually see the inexperienced talent on the field. With the help of 7 new starters on defense, the Panthers gave up 381 total yards to their inferior FCS opponent. Furthermore, the offense looked similar to their 2011 group that ranked 79th in total offense averaging just 350 yards per game. Veteran QB Tino Sunseri was solid by completing 19 of 30 passing for 239 yards and a touchdown. However, the offense failed to find a consistent running game and also coughed up some costly turnovers which ultimately led to their falling. Now the Panthers have to try to find answers and have a short week to do so. Can the Panthers repair the shipwreck? We will soon find out when Pittsburgh travels to Nippert Stadium to battle the Cincinnati Bearcats in a big time conference opener.

This will be the nation’s first look at the Bearcats considering this will be their season opener. However, we do know that the Bearcats return 7 starters on the defensive side of the football led by a talented duo upfront in Walter Stewart and Dan Giordano. Both defensive lineman combined for 11 sacks in 2011 and should be primed for an even better season in 2012. The Bearcats gave up 356 total yards per game last season, ranking 44th in NCAA, and have a group that should be improved.

On the offensive side of the football, the Bearcats’ have a lot of question marks with inexperience at the skill positions. Both sensational talents in QB Zach Collaros and RB Isaiah Pead have departed from the team following 2011. Now junior QB Munchie Legaux steps in behind center. Legaux actually received valuable playing time last season during the final games of the regular season but was largely inconsistent. Legaux completed just 46% passing in those 4 games and tossed 4 picks as well. Luckily for the Bearcats in 2011, when the passing attack failed they were still able to run the ball effectively. However similar to the talent behind center, Cincinnati has a guy with little inexperience prepared to start in the backfield. Senior running back George Winn has just 70 carries to his resume during his tenure in Cincinnati. Therefore as you can see, the Bearcats will be looking for a guy to prove they can march the offense down the field. Surely someone will be able to step up for the offense, but can they do it right away when the Panthers come into town?

Unfortunately for the nationally televised audience, I’m not convinced you will see a lot of scoring or offense in this Big East match-up. In fact, I expect some old school style football with both teams putting emphasis on ball protection and field position. The question is who will make the plays needed to capture a victory? As bad as the Panthers were last week, they still have a guy in Sunseri that can lead the offense and be successful. Still, there are a lot of questions surrounding both programs entering this Thursday night and it will be interesting to see how things unfold on the grid iron.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The total has not yet been released in this game but it deserves some serious attention. I think Cincinnati will pull out a close one but I really like a very low scoring game as well. Good luck

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