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College Football Pick - South Florida vs. Pitt

9/29/11

South Florida comes into Pittsburg for a Thursday Night affair 4-0 and ranked 18th in the country as they get ready for their first conference game of the year against the 2-2 Pitt Panthers. The South Florida Bulls are anywhere from a -2 to a -3 -105 road favorite here as we write this on Monday morning.

In our opinion, a case can certainly be made for the wrong team being favored here. What do we really know about South Florida? We know they beat up on UTEP, Florida AM and Ball State. We also know they made it out of South Bend by a hair as they beat Notre Dame in week 1, 23-20 in a game that everyone will remember as a result of 3 hours in weather delays.

In that Notre Dame game, South Florida gave up over 500 total yards, almost 400 of that through the air. They were 2-14 on 3rd down conversions, averaged just 3.5 yards per play compared to Notre Dames 6.5 and gave up 8 yards per pass. The storyline, other than the weather, was Notre Dame turning the ball over 5 times. Check and Mate.

Plenty to worry about backing Pitt as well. Games against Buffalo and Maine, close games, are no boost to our confidence. Neither are two fourth quarter collapses in their last two games. The Panthers led Iowa, at Iowa, 24-3 with 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter only to lose the game, while they also led Notre Dame 12-7 before giving up the winning TD with 7 minutes remaining.

The talent levels between these two schools are even. We'll give the nod to South Florida at QB with B.J. Daniels and their offense in general as the Panthers are still in the learning stages of a new spread offense. The Pitt defense is a work in progress as well. Again, new coaches, new schemes. Dave Wannstedt was as conservative as they come. Now guys Wannstedt recruited are being asked to play in schemes brought in by Coach Todd Graham and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson from Tulsa.

Pitt is ranked 115th in the nation in pass defense. For some teams, that would be because they have no talent. For Pitt, the talent is there. It's a work in progress and the unit should improve week after week. Same goes for the offense. Knowing that Notre Dame passed for almost 400 yards on South Florida should have the Panthers thinking this could be the week that the offense explodes.

This quote from Pitt QB Tino Sunseri:

“We have to learn to finish, and we’re going to. We’re so close,” said quarterback Tino Sunseri. “That’s the thing that’s so frustrating right now in our locker room. We feel like we are inches away from really busting this open and really being in that up-tempo offense and understanding it, and being able to put points on the board.”

We like Pitt here in this crucial early season Big East match up. Pitt +3 -115 or better

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