Pitt vs. Louisville Betting Odds, Picks: Can Cardinals Cover Short Spread?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Malik Cunningham (Louisville)
Pitt vs. Louisville Odds
Saturday night’s matchup between Pittsburgh and Louisville features two ACC opponents looking to make a big step towards their preseason expectations.
Both teams come into Week 8 rejuvenated after a bye week in Week 7.
Louisville and head coach Scott Satterfield will look to take advantage of just their third contest this year as pre-game favorites after being plagued by injuries in the early part of the season.
Pittsburgh has put itself in a difficult position after losing to Georgia Tech in Week 5. A loss on Saturday would drastically derail its goals of winning the ACC Coastal, with UNC still undefeated in the division.
Pittsburgh has the historical advantage in this matchup (10-to-8), while winning six of the last seven meetings.
This year, Pittsburgh has been defined by its rushing attack, and is led by star running back Israel Abanikanda. Abanikanda’s 6.4 yards per carry has resulted in Pittsburgh being ranked 49th nationally in Rushing Success Rate (42.7%).
The same can’t be said for quarterback Kedon Slovis and the passing attack, which ranks 79th nationally in Success Rate (39.5%).
Pittsburgh will look to continue its run-first offense on Saturday night against a Louisville defense that has shown some success defending it.
The Cardinals have produced a Defensive Stuff Rate of 22% because of a 1.09 Explosiveness ranking defensively against the run.
Where Louisville will really find success in this game is in its ability to get Pittsburgh off the field.
Pittsburgh ranks 116th nationally in seconds per play and looks to limit the number of possessions for its opponents, as a result.
Defensively, Louisville is 10th nationally in third- and fourth-down Success Rate defensively (32.89%).
This ability to stop Pittsburgh on crucial downs will be pivotal in giving Malik Cunningham extra possessions to create explosive plays — both on the ground and through the air.
Lastly, look for Louisville to put Pittsburgh in situations where the Panthers are forced to leave points on the board.
To this point in the season, Louisville ranks 24th in Finishing Drives, which will be important against a Pittsburgh offense that looks to limit the number of possessions for both teams.
In Week 6, Louisville was able to pull out a 34-17 win against Virginia without its superstar quarterback Cunningham (concussion).
Satterfield has stated that Cunningham is back at practice and is “ready to go” after the team's Week 7 bye.
For a Louisville team plagued by injuries at multiple positions, the bye week came at a perfect time.
In addition to Cunningham, the Cardinals will return safety Kenderick Duncan (ankle) and offensive lineman Adonis Boone (who was helped off the field against Virginia). Running back Tiyon Evans has been limited in practice and would be a huge addition if he is able to suit up on Saturday night.
Cunningham’s return gives Louisville a real advantage against a Pittsburgh defense that has struggled with explosive plays all season.
The Panthers have an overall Explosiveness Rating of 1.33. Led by Cunningham, Louisville has been able to post the same high rating of 1.33 offensively.
Additionally, the return of Cunningham minimizes one of Pittsburgh’s greatest defensive strengths, getting pressure on the quarterback.
Pittsburgh ranks 41st nationally in rushing the passer. Cunningham’s ability to create on the ground will give Louisville a counter to this pressure created up-front.
Getting into space is not only where Cunningham has the most success, but it is also where this Pittsburgh defense is most vulnerable. The Panthers are giving up 1.9 open field yards per rush, which plays right into Cunningham’s creative ability on the ground.
Defensively, Louisville will look to slow down a Pittsburgh offense that has been relatively one-dimensional.
The Cardinals can match Pittsburgh’s rushing success, ranking 52nd nationally in Line Yards defensively compared to Pittsburgh ranking of 56th offensively.
Notably, Louisville will force Pittsburgh to continue its reliance on the run game through its defensive specialty against the pass.
The Cardinals rank 46th in Passing Success Rate while Pittsburgh is 80th in the same category. The return of Duncan will only further this advantage.
Lastly, there is a distinct special teams advantage for Louisville in this matchup. The Cardinals have missed only one field goal this year and have a net punt average of 41.2 yards.
Comparatively, Pittsburgh has missed three of its 10 field-goal attempts and has a net punt average of just 33.7 yards.
In a game that has had a spread under a field goal since it opened, this special teams advantage is not something to be overlooked.
Pitt vs. Louisville Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Pitt and Louisville match up statistically:
Pitt Offense vs. Louisville Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Louisville Offense vs. Pitt Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||121||26|
|Seconds per Play||28.7 (114)||26.0 (59)|
|Rush Rate||57.5% (38)||58.0% (35)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Pitt vs. Louisville Betting Pick
For Pittsburgh to go on the road and get a win against the Cardinals on Saturday night, it will need to develop a more balanced offensive attack, specifically through the play of Slovis in the passing game.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, this is where Louisville will have the biggest advantage in this matchup. The Cardinals outrank Pitt in Passing Success Rate, Pass Blocking, Havoc and Defensive Finishing Drives.
This statistical advantage on defense will force the Panthers into the same methodical ground attack that it has relied on all season. This will allow the Cardinals to take advantage of their 22% Stuff Rate, along with a top-60 ranking in Line Yards.
On the other end, Cunningham changes Louisville’s offense completely. His ability to create on the ground and avoid pressure up front will be too much for Pittsburgh to match offensively.
Look for Cunningham to create in the open field early and often.