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Notre Dame vs. Pitt Pick with Analysis

9/24/11

Notre Dame travels to Pittsburgh this week to take on future ACC conference member, the Pitt Panthers. Notre Dame is currently a -6.5 road favorite with a total of 53 at 5 dimes and SBG Global, up a half point from the opener of -6. The usuall Notre Dame public money has moved the number slightly, with 77% of the betting action coming in on Notre Dame.

Pitt opened with two easy games over Buffalo and Maine. Easy on paper, not so easy in the real world. They got by Buffalo 35-16 as 30 point favs and got by Maine just 35-29. Did they take those teams lightly? We thought we had our answer last week when Pitt led Iowa 27-10 early in the 4th quarter. Then, the wheels fell off. Iowa came all the way back to win the game 31-27, the biggest comeback in Iowa Hawkeye history.

Now Pitt will have to dig down deep and bounce back from a total collapse. If any team knows how to do just that, it's their opponent, Notre Dame. Two weeks ago, Notre Dame led Michigan 24-7 in the 4th quarter, only to give up 4 TD's to lose the game. They bounced back last week with a 31-13 home win over #15 Michigan State.

A look at the recent history, these two teams have played 3 consecutive years, shows us 3 close games. Last year it was a 23-17 Notre Dame win in a game that saw Pitt have two chances to tie in the final 3 minutes but fail. In 2009 Pitt won 27-22 and in 2008 Pitt beat Notre Dame in OT, 36-33. This tells us that we are dealing with a couple of schools that are close in talent.

Where you should be concerned as a Notre Dame backer is with two key statistical categories where Notre Dame ranks last and close to last in the nation. One of those is turnovers lost, where Notre Dame is dead last at -10 and the other is penalties where they rank 103rd. You can't expect to win close games when you're turning the ball over and shooting yourself in the foot with dumb penalties. These are stats that tend to stay consistent from start to finish.

We're going to side with Pitt here. In what figured to be a close game going in, the Notre Dame turnover and Penalty problems puts it over the top. We're concerned with Pitt's ability to bounce back after last weeks collapse, but as Notre Dame proved, it can be done. Teams go one of two ways after a collapse like that. They either wilt, or they come together as a team and bounce back.

With the number currently a solid -6.5 across the board, let's hope the Notre Dame money continues to flow in and moves the number to -7, at which point, we'll bite. Pitt +7 or more

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