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Pitt Panthers Favored over Louisville

Over Under Line 53.5

10/2/09

I was very surprised that there weren’t any Big East teams in the preseason Top 25. Just four weeks into the year, the Big East now boasts #10 Cincinnati along with other strong programs such as Pittsburgh, West Virginia, South Florida, and Rutgers. The Pittsburgh Panthers looked on their way to a 4-0 start last week before allowing 14 fourth quarter points while losing to North Carolina State 38-31. They will try to get back on track against the Louisville Cardinals, a team that played Kentucky hard on the road and handily losing to Utah on the road.

Things were going very well for the Pittsburgh Panthers last week; until the fourth quarter. They allowed the NC State Wolf Pack to put up 14 points in the last quarter of the game, losing 38-31. The offense was largely effective, turning just 300 total yards into 31 points. RB Dion Lewis had 95 yards and a TD, and QB Bill Stull was effective. The defense lost the game for Pittsburgh. They allowed NC State to dominate the clock, and pick up a whopping 27 first downs. The Wolf Pack had 530 yards of total offense, balancing their attack between the run and passing game. The Panthers MUST wake their anemic defense up to be successful this week against the Cardinals.

The Pittsburgh Panthers were in the hunt for the Big East Championship for much of 2008, and look primed for another try in 2009. They started the year with an easy 38-3 win over Youngstown State before outscoring Buffalo on the road 54-27. After that game they easily vanquished the Navy Midshipmen 27-14. Freshman RB Dion Lewis has been pivotal for the Panthers, along with QB Bill Stull and WR Dorin Dickerson. Stull looked great against Navy with 245 yards and a TD pass. Lewis was a bit lethargic in that game, picking up 79 yards and a TD while averaging 3.4 yards per carry. The Panthers will rely on Lewis to have a big game against Louisville. Look for the defense to step things up after giving up 14 points in the 4th quarter last week. That cost them a win, and the defensive coordinator will redouble his effort this week.

In their second game of the year many expected the Louisville Cardinals to lie down for their cross state rival Kentucky, but the Cards made a game out of it. RB Victor Anderson played a good game, picking up 110 yards and a TD from 19 carries. QB Justin Burke played well for most of the game, but a late INT cost the Cardinals a win. He ended the day with 245 yards 2 TDs, and an INT. A slow start in that game hurt Louisville. They were down 17-7 at half time, but found themselves with a chance late in the game. Giving up a 100 yard kickoff return for a TD didn’t help them much. To be successful against Pittsburgh they have to play better defense.

The Cards were also a victim of a slow start in their following game against the Utah Utes. They were shutout in the first half, before losing 30-14, giving up 10 points in the 4th quarter. The run game was very uninspiring in that loss and QB Justin Burke didn’t play very well. If “The ‘Ville” is going to have success against Pittsburgh, the offense needs a quick start. Also, the defense needs to avoid falling apart late in the game. I’d like to see them do a better job of stopping the run.

For both of these squads, this is the first conference game. So both are 0-0 and can still dream of conference titles and all that goes along with that. But ot's Pitt and Dave Wannstedt that are really against the wall here. This is the year where Pitt was supposed to live up to expectations. After blowing last weeks game, Pitt can't afford to stumble again. Their schedule doesn't get any easier. They have Uconn, Rutgers, South Florida, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Cinci all coming up. If they can't beat Louisville here, a team they beat 41-7 a year ago, them Wannstedt may as well pack his bags now. With that in mind we'll take Pitt -6.5 over Louisville Thursday Night.

 

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