Welcome to the first 2015 edition of "Against the Odds", as we take a look at Pitt's chances from a Vegas perspective each week. Ordinarily, the books do not place lines on games that feature FBS teams playing FCS opponents. If that were the case, though, it's hard to imagine Pitt would have covered any line last week as they had to fight off a late push from the Youngstown State Penguins.
Pitt opened as an 11.5 point favorite on the road against the Akron Zips with most books upping that to 13, despite the injury to running back James Conner. The Panthers went out and scored points and looked solid on offense, but the big play bug bit the defense in the second half, thus keeping Youngstown State in the game longer than they probably should have been. Akron, meanwhile, dropped a road game to heavily favored Oklahoma by a score of 48-3. The Zips packed little punch on offense, and allowed the Sooners to pass all over them on defense.
Having said all that about the first game by these two teams, it's fair to examine what happened last year. Pitt lost to Akron, which was one of their worst losses in recent years. Akron held the Pitt offense in check, while Pitt looked lifeless throughout much of the game. Since that game, Pitt has changed coaching staffs, lost their best player to a knee injury, and now the venue flips to Akron. Couple that with the fact Pitt has historically played mediocre in these type of games, and they played to a lackluster performance on Saturday. Simply put, 13 almost seems generous and from a betting perspective it seems tricky.
If I were a betting man, I would probably stay away from this game. In one sense, you would hope Pitt can put the Conner injury behind them, and flourish with the return of Tyler Boyd and put up points and hold down a very anemic looking Akron offense from last week. On the other hand though, Pitt has played down to their competition through the years and have faltered in games they should win, such as this. Akron is not great by any stretch, but they managed to really handle Pitt last season, and that is concerning.
It's a toss up for me, so take this bet with your own risk.