The Thursday night (8:00pm ET) game for week five of the 2011 college football season features a Big East conference matchup with the 14th-ranked University of South Florida Bulls (4-0) traveling to Pittsburgh, PA to take on the Pitt Panthers (2-2). Both coaches, Skip Holtz for USF and Todd Graham for Pitt, are quite familiar with each other having met three times before when Graham was with Rice in 2006 and Tulsa from 2007-10 while Holtz was coaching East Carolina. Graham won with Rice over ECU, while Holtz won the other two meetings when Graham moved over to Tulsa.
The Bulls offense, led by quarterback B.J. Daniels, ranks second in the Big East and 10th among FBS schools with an average of 45.5 points per game scored. Daniels ranks second in the conference with 1,071 passing yards to go along with eight TD passes and one interception. USF ran for 373 yards and put up a season-high total of 575 yards in last week’s 52-24 demolition of UTEP. Pitt QB Tino Sunseri leads the Big East with four interceptions and is coming off a game in which he threw for a season low 165 yards in last week’s loss to Notre Dame.
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South Florida vs. Pitt Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
South Florida Bulls -2.5
@Pitt Panthers +2.5
Over 52 (-110)
Under 52 (-110)
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South Florida vs. Pitt Pick:
The Panthers are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 conference games, and the under is 7-3 in Pitt’s last 10 games as an underdog. The Bulls are 2-5 ATS in their last seven conference games, and the under is 5-2 I n their last seven conference games. The Panthers have won three consecutive head-to-head matchups with the Bulls, including last season’s meeting at USF by a score of 17-10, covering the three point spread. The favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings between the two teams; the Bulls are 2-5 ATS in those last seven meetings so Pitt has been favored five of the last seven times to two teams have met.
The teams have one common opponent, Notre Dame, with the Bulls upsetting the then-16th ranked Irish 23-20 in South Bend to open the season and Pitt dropping their matchup 15-12 last week at Heinz Field. Pitt has had trouble putting away their opponents this season, losing a 17-point lead at Iowa in a 31-27 loss to the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, and losing to the Irish on a game-winning touchdown with 6:48 left in the game last week. The USF offense will be hard to hold down for four quarters, especially for a panther defense that ranks 155th in the nation in pass defense with an average of 306.2 YPG allowed through the air. Pitt’s strength is running the ball with tailback Ray Graham, the latest in a long line of quality Panther runners, who has run for 508 yards (5.1 YPC) and six touchdowns on the season. The Panther offense and their QB Sunseri will not be able to keep pace with South Florida against a Bulls defense that ranks 17th in the nation with an average of 23 points per game allowed and shuts down the running game with only 82.5 YPG rushing allowed (15th in the nation). Both quarterbacks, Sunseri and Daniels failed to reach 150 yards passing in their last meeting, so this could be a game that features much less offense than anticipated. Take USF to cover the 2 points on the road, they have superior talent on both sides of the ball and a coach who has a track record of beating his opponent.