The college football bowl season continues prior to the weekend with an appetizer prior to Monday’s BCS National Championship finale with the SMU Mustangs (7-5) of Conference USA traveling to Birmingham, AL to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6) of the Big East this Saturday afternoon (1:00pm ET) in the BBVA Compass Bowl. SMU stumbled down the stretch, losing four of their last six regular season games, but they closed out the campaign with a 27-24 win over Rice in their finale on November 26, failing to cover the 13 point spread. Pittsburgh won three of their final five games after a -4 start to the season, including a 33-20 win over Syracuse on December 3 to close out their season by coving the 8 point line. SMU is 4-8 ATS this season, while Pittsburgh is 7-5 ATS.
The Mustangs rank 71st among FBS teams in scoring offense with an average of 25.7 points per game and rank 50th in total offense with 396 yards per game. The SMU defense ranks 51st in scoring defense with 24.5 PPG allowed and 36th in the nation in total defense with 351.2 YPG allowed. Pittsburgh ranks 69th in the nation in scoring offense with 25.8 PPG and 83rd in total offense with 362.2 YPG. Quarterback Tino Sunseri (2,433 yards passing, 10 TDs, 10 INTs) has regressed from his performance a season ago, as the running game has suffered with injuries. The Panther defense ranks 34th among FBS teams in scoring with 22.4 PPG allowed and 40th in the nation in total defense with 354.8 YPG allowed.
SMU vs. Pittsburgh Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
SMU Mustangs +3.5
@Pittsburgh Panthers -3.5
Over 47 (-110)
Under 47 (-110)
Bet on the game at www.5dimes.com and get $520 FREE
SMU vs. Pittsburgh Pick:
SMU is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games and 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games overall. Pittsburgh is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games against a team with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in SMU’s last 6 games overall and 5-2 in their last 7 games as an underdog. The under is 5-0 in Pitt’s last 5 bowl games and 5-2 in their last 7 games overall. The two teams have had no recent meetings.
Pittsburgh will be led in this game by defensive coordinator Keith Patterson after head coach Todd Graham resigned last month to take the top job at Arizona State. The Panthers have bitter feelings about the departure and will have something to prove in their attempt to win their third straight bowl game. Senior running back Zach Brown and freshman Isaac Bennett will carry the load with the loss of one the best runners in the nation, Ray Graham. They should be up to the task after combining for 422 yards rushing in the final four games. SMU will be without the services of their leading rusher as well, as Zach Line (1,224 yards, 17 TDs) has been out since November 17 following toe surgery. SMU averaged only 8.5 PPG in their four late-season losses, and will need freshman backs Rishaad Wimbley and Jared Williams to step up in order to notch their second bowl win in three years. The call here is that they will not be up to the task and that Pitt will be motivated to finish strong and continue the late-season swoon for SMU. Without a compelling case to be made on the over/under lien in this game, the play to make is to take the panthers to cover.