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Panthers vs. Uconn Huskies Pick.
Connecticut Huskies (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS), Week 9 College Football, 8:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday, October 26, 2011, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa. TV: ESPN
by Ryno, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Uconn +10/Pitt -10
Over/Under Total: 42
Bet the Huskies/Panthers game using your credit card at an online sportsbook where it WILL work for deposits: Intertops.
In a rare Wednesday night game, two struggling Big East teams will face off at Heinz Field, as Pittsburgh hosts Connecticut.
Pitt has lost four if its last five games, including losses to Iowa, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Utah, with a blowout victory over then-ranked South Florida sprinkled in the middle of those losses. The Panthers are really struggling, but how do they mirror what they did against USF when they face UConn?
They need to run, run, run the ball. Ray Graham is one of the best running backs in college football and he’s by far the star for the Panthers. They need to utilize him on every play. Give him 40 or more carries if they need to. But giving the ball to Graham and getting some good blocking from the offensive line is how the Panthers will be at their best. Against USF, Graham had 26 carries for 226 yards and two touchdowns, plus four receptions for 42 yards. On the season, Graham has 906 rushing yards and 30 receptions for 200 receiving yards, a 5.6 yards per carry average, and nine rushing touchdowns.
The reason for Pitt’s demise is simple: The Panthers can’t pass the ball. Quarterback Tito Sunseri has been miserable. He has 1,204 passing yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven games. The more he passes, the worse it is for Pitt. The more the Panthers are behind, the more they decide they need to pass. So the only positive solution is to just give the ball to Graham from the start and make the other team stop their running attack.
UConn also beat that same South Florida team that Pitt defeated. The Huskies beat USF in their last game, 16-10. But prior to that, they had lost four of five games, including a blowout loss to West Virginia and losses to Western Michigan, Iowa State and Vanderbilt.
The Huskies have not scored more than 21 points in any of their four games this year against BCS conference teams. Their offense has not been very impressive. Quarterback Johnny McEntee has 1,209 passing yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions with a 52.4 completion percentage. Running back Lyle McCombs has 652 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Receivers Isiah Moore, Ryan Griffin and Kashif Moore each have around 300 receiving yards. Kashif Moore leads the way in receiving touchdowns with three of them. When the Huskies move the ball down the field and get into the red zone, they need to capitalize. They can’t settle for too many field goals.
This game will be simple. Can UConn contain Graham? If they Huskies can stop the heralded running back, they’ll likely win the game. If they can’t, Pitt is going to run all over them and roll to an easy victory. This shouldn’t be a high-scoring affair. Both teams like to move the ball slowly and surely. But a big night for Graham could make it a high-scoring affair at least for Pitt. Both of these teams are desperate for a win to get back to .500 overall and over .500 in the Big East. A loss for either team would be deflating at this point.
UConn won at Pitt last year, 30-28. Graham ran for 75 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Former Pitt running back Dion Lewis had 13 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Former UConn running back Jordan Todman had a monster game with 37 carries for 222 yards. UConn quarterback Zach Frazer completed just nine of his 20 pass attempts for 100 yards but he still managed to win the game because of UConn’s strong running attack from Todman. Sunseri was 20 of 28 passing for 220 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
UConn has covered in just two of its seven games this year. The Huskies’ games have gone under in five of their seven games. Pitt has also covered just two of their seven games this year. One of the two games each team covered was against South Florida. Pitt’s games have gone under in four of their seven games this year.
Ryno’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Pitt -10!
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