The home team is a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS in this series, with three of the previous four meetings being decided by 11, 30 and 25 points, respectively. Pittsburgh is 3-1 SU and ATS this season and continues to be underrated by the betting market. The Panthers boast an outstanding defense that is allowing 21.0 points per game and 245 total yards at 4.1 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.6 yards per play against mediocre defensive squads.
Overall, Pittsburgh’s stop unit is 1.7 yards per rush attempt, 1.5 yards per pass attempt and 1.5 yards per play better than average, which is certainly good enough to shut down an underrated Virginia attack that is 0.4 yards per play better than average (5.5 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.1 yards per play).
Pittsburgh Defense vs. Virginia Offense:
- +2.4 yards per rush attempt advantage
- +0.1 yards per pass attempt advantage
- +1.1 yards per play advantage overall
The most alarming issue facing Virginia is its defense that is allowing 38.2 points per game and 445 total yards at 6.4 yards per play to teams that would combine to average just 6.4 yards per play. The biggest liability facing the Cavaliers is their secondary, which has been 0.5 yards per play worse than average (8.0 yards per pass play to teams that would combine to average 7.5 yards per pass play). Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1% of their pass attempts against Virginia, and the Panthers’ aerial attack should have similar success Saturday afternoon.
Indeed, Pittsburgh is averaging 7.3 yards per pass attempt against teams that would combine to allow 6.6 yards per pass play, while also completing 66.3% of its pass attempts. While the Panthers are a run-first offense (40 run attempts vs. 22 pass attempts on average), I expect head coach Pat Narduzzi to employ more of a pass game to exploit the Cavaliers’ inept backfield.
Overall, Pittsburgh’s subpar offense (5.3 yards per play against teams that would combine to give up 5.5 yards per play) should move the ball effectively against a Virginia stop unit that yielded 503 total yards at 6.1 yards per play in its lone road game in 2015.
From a technical standpoint, Pittsburgh is a profitable 23-11-2 in its last 37 October games, 12-5-1 ATS in its last nineteen games versus teams with a losing record and 5-2 in its last seven games overall, whereas the Cavaliers are just 6-13-1 ATS after failing to cover the point spread, 1-3-1 ATS in its last five road games and 0-3-2 ATS in its last five games in October. Lay the wood with the Panthers and invest with confidence.
Oskeim Sports’ Free NCAA Football Best Bet: Pittsburgh (-9.5) (-110)