USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bryce Perkins and Steven Montez
The jam-packed weekday college football slate is capped off with three games on Friday night, including two Power 5 matchups.
This guide will hit on the following games:
- Pittsburgh at Virginia (-7)
- Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee (-13.5)
- Colorado at Arizona (-3)
>> All odds as of 7 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets
Pittsburgh at Virginia Betting Odds
- Spread: Virginia -7
- Over/Under: 48
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
Virginia has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the college football season. The Cavaliers have just two losses and have played excellent defense all year. Throw in a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Bryce Perkins, and you’ve got a team that controls its own destiny to win the ACC Coastal.
Pitt Has Faced Tougher Tests
There’s an interesting discrepancy in strength of schedule to this point, with Virginia at 78th and Pitt ninth. Pitt’s up-and-down season includes a 45-point loss against Penn State, a straight-up win as an underdog to Syracuse and nearly upsetting No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend a few weeks ago.
Pitt Has Been Trending Down, Though
Pitt’s schedule has been tough, and that’s a factor. But the Panthers have been declining in S&P+ ratings (which are opponent adjusted) all season, while Virginia jumped up after a great start and has settled into the top 50 for the last month.
How Will Virginia Defense Attack Pitt’s Running Game?
The one major advantage Virginia has in this game is field position, ranking third offensively and 15th defensively. Pitt hasn’t been as fortunate with an offensive rank of 116th and a defensive rank of 104th. Virginia should have a field-position advantage on Pitt all night.
Pitt has an efficient rush offense, ranking 12th in S&P+. Avoiding passing downs will be key for the Panthers, as that will play into the Cavaliers’ strength on defense.
Virginia has earned high marks in the Havoc category, including a linebacker rank of 12th and a defensive back rank of first in the nation. Considering Pitt is 16th in the nation in run rate on passing downs, quarterback Kenny Pickett will want to go to the air as little as possible.
Can Pitt Stop Bryce Perkins?
The big handicap in this game is limiting the Virginia quarterback on the ground. With 710 non-sack rushing yards, Perkins is the leading rusher on the team, just better than running back Jordan Ellis’ 683 yards.
The Panthers rank 104th in the nation in defending rush explosiveness, meaning Perkins and Ellis should have big days. Pitt hasn’t looked great against rushing quarterbacks this season, either.
Penn State’s Trace McSorley scored a rushing touchdown, Syracuse’s Eric Dungey ran for 70 yards on 13 carries and McKenzie Milton had two rushing touchdowns for Central Florida.
I’ll be on Virginia this game as the Wahoos make their push for the ACC title game.
Collin’s Pick: Virginia -7
One Key Trend
By Evan Abrams
Under Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia has played six home games where it opened as at least a 7-point favorite and the Cavaliers are only 4-2 straight up. While at BYU, Mendenhall went 33-5 SU at home in those same situations.