Game: West Virginia Mountaineers @ Pittsburgh Panthers
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Mountaineers +7.5, Panthers -7.5
The Backyard Brawl is once again. This is a series that goes back more than a century, for all the West Virginia and Pitt supporters who are old enough to remember. These two former rivals are only separated by a short section of Interstate 79. Since 2011, the two teams have not played.
This time around, Pitt is a 7.5-point underdog and will host the game at Heinz Field in front of a national television audience. The Panthers won the ACC last year, but QB Kenny Pickett is now in the NFL after being drafted in the first round. Kedon Slovis, a former USC quarterback, will take his place. The top three running backs for Pitt will be back, but the Panthers will still need to find a replacement for the Biletnikoff Award winner, Jordan Addison.
When it comes to the passing game, Slovis, who had over 7,500 yards passing and 58 touchdowns at USC, is more than adequate under new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr.
The Panthers’ defense dominated the ACC in run defense last season and ended sixth in the country, but the offense received the majority of attention.
J.T. Daniels, the new quarterback for West Virginia and a former teammate of Slovis’, will be a focus for the Panthers. Actually, West Virginia has been really good defensively and among the top Big 12 defenses in recent years. The problem for the Mountaineers in 2022 is they lote all of their starting linebackers from last year and they only have one defensive back with any starting experience.
Before Slovis at USC, Daniels had been the Trojans starter. Slovis replaced Daniels as the Trojans’ starter after an injury. Daniels transferred to Georgia, where he once again started and sustained an injury. After Daniels got hurt at Georgia, Stetson Bennett replaced him as the Bulldogs’ starter at quarterback.
Daniels will attempt to take control of an offense that scored 25.2 points per game in 2021. The running game was the main issue. The Mountaineers’ rushing offense, which averaged 123.4 yards per game, was ranked 103rd in the country. That will make it difficult to compete with the Panthers’ formidable run defense.
Last year, WVU finished 6-7 both SU and ATS. In their previous ten road contests, the Mountaineers have a 2-8 SU record. They have gone 1-4 ATS over their last five games overall, but before the Backyard Brawl’s 2011 conclusion, they had won five of the previous seven games.
Pat Narduzzi, Pitt’s head coach, wants more after his team’s greatest year since 1981. With 14 starters back, he is aiming for another ACC championship and perhaps a spot in the College Football Playoff. Daniels and the West Virginia passing game should be held in check thanks to the return of three secondary starters.
In their previous 15 games, Pitt is 11-4 ATS, and in their last 13 non-conference contests, they are 9-4 ATS.
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