Pitt vs West Virginia Odds & Picks: How to Bet Backyard Brawl
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Neal Brown (West Virginia)
Pitt vs West Virginia Odds
After a hiatus due to conference realignment, the Backyard Brawl thankfully returned last season.
In my opinion, this is one of the more under-appreciated rivalries in the sport, and last year's game certainly had plenty of fireworks.
Pitt pulled out a come-from-behind victory over the visiting Mountaineers, who will be seeking revenge in Saturday night's return game in Morgantown.
Both of these teams enter Week 3 at 1-1, but West Virginia's loss at Penn State is a little bit easier to swallow compared to Pitt's defeat at home last week to Cincinnati.
With this line sitting right under a field goal, let's discuss where the betting value lies between two old Big East foes.
The Phil Jurkovec era in Pittsburgh hasn't gotten off to a very good start. The former Notre Dame and Boston College QB completed just 10 of his 32 passes last week against Cincy, as the Panthers failed to move the ball for basically the first three quarters of the game.
Jurkovec is a graduate student who was supposed to bring veteran poise to the Pitt offense, but the early returns aren't great.
In addition to some struggles at the quarterback position, Pitt's offense ranks outside the top 50 in both Rush Success and Line Yards.
Granted, we only have a couple of data points thus far in the season, but these are still concerning metrics when you have to go face a pretty stout WVU defense in a raucous environment Saturday night.
Pat Narduzzi has always been a defense-first type of head coach, and when he's had success at Pitt, much of it has been tied to great defensive play.
The Panthers lost a good amount of snaps from a year ago on the defensive side, and one glaring issue thus far in 2023 has been the performance in the red zone. Pitt checks in at 106th out of 133 FBS teams in Defensive Finishing Drives.
It's been well documented that this was pretty much a put up or shut up year for Neal Brown in his fifth season in Morgantown.
I know the record shows WVU at 1-1, but I've been pretty encouraged by the product put out by Brown's team in the non-conference thus far.
Penn State is one of the best teams in the country, particularly when at home in a white out. The Mountaineers hung around for a lot of that game and more than held their own in the trenches.
In fact, West Virginia ranks inside the top 10 in the country in Line Yards on both sides of the ball.
If there's an area where the defense needs to clean it up a bit, it would be in the secondary, as opponents like Drew Allar have connected on some big plays against the backend of this defense.
However, that shouldn't be as big of a concern against a Pitt offense that's had limited success throwing the ball vertically down the field.
Look for the Mountaineers' defense to throw some blitzes at Jurkovec in an effort to generate some Havoc and give Garrett Greene and the offense some short fields to work with.
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Pitt and West Virginia match up statistically:
Pitt Offense vs. West Virginia Defense
West Virginia Offense vs. Pitt Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|Special Teams SP+||103||93|
|Seconds per Play||29.1 (97)||25.5 (46)|
|Rush Rate||53.6% (74)||60.1% (24)|
Pitt vs West Virginia
Betting Pick & Prediction
I like the home team to win this game, and I don't know that it will be all that close. I have more faith in the Mountaineers on both sides of the ball, and they should be playing with a bit of an edge at home in a pivotal game for their head coach.
Jurkovec has given us very little confidence that he will perform well in a difficult road atmosphere, and the Panthers should struggle to get things going on the ground, as well.
Look for Greene to use his legs early in this one, and then lean on the play-action game to find some of the WVU skill guys down the field.
I was surprised to see Pitt open as a short favorite in this game, and I like West Virginia to find a way to win this game.
Country Roads, take us home.
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