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Against the Odds: Pitt at Virginia

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Checking out the betting line for the UVA game

NCAA Football: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt is a five point favorite for Saturday’s game at Virginia. The Panthers are coming off a a come-from-behind victory against Georgia Tech last week, which moved them to 4-2 on the season. Virginia had a bye last week, and they come into the game with a 2-3 mark, although they are riding a modest two game winning streak.

Since joining the ACC, Pitt holds a narrow 2-1 margin in the series, including a 26-19 win last year. All three meetings have been close and relatively low scoring, but this year could take on a different story. Both teams are in the bottom half of the ACC in scoring defense, and both offenses should be able to score points, so a higher scoring game could be on the horizon.

From Pitt’s perspective, we know what this team is all about for the most part. Matt Canada has breathed new life into this offense, and it can score points. The running game with James Conner and Chawntez Moss has been consistent. The passing game with Nate Peterman has picked up lately, and of course Quadree Henderson’s ability to do just about anything adds an extra element. Pitt should have little trouble scoring points on Saturday.

Conversely, Pitt’s defense has been horrific, and that’s not an exaggeration. Pitt’s passing defense has been a train wreck all year long, and with top corner Avonte Maddox likely out Saturday, it could be in even more trouble. Virginia is not a great offensive team, but they look to throw the ball under new head coach Bronco Mendenhall. That alone should be a concern for Pitt. The Panthers are going to need a big day from Ejuan Price and pass rush to offset the Cavaliers’ passing game.

Pitt has played a close game in five of their six games to date, it just seems like that trend is not going away either. They are also 0-2 on the road this season. With those factors, I think five points is pretty fair all things considered. There’s no sugar coating that Virginia is not a very good team either. They lost to FCS Richmond by 17 this season and lost to UConn 13-10 as well. They have been far from impressive. Still, it is their homecoming and they have had an extra time to prepare for Pitt with a bye week. Also given the brief history against one another, the games tend to be close.

I feel confident in Pitt on Saturday. They have more talent than Virginia and Pat Narduzzi has a leg up on Bronco Mendenhall. Virginia is in a complete rebuild and it will take time for the new coach to get the program where he wants it to be. I have Pitt winning by about two touchdowns, and that may be me being optimistic. Could Pitt be in another four quarter dog fight again this Saturday?

Let’s hear what you think below.