Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi
Pittsburgh 2018 Betting Odds
- To win the National Title: +120000
- To win the ACC: +10000
- To win the ACC Coastal: +1800
- Win Total: 5 (over -145, under +115)
Always shop for the best line.
Pittsburgh 2018 Schedule, Betting Odds
The Action Network Projected Wins: 4.8
Bet To Watch
Penn State -13.5 vs. Pitt, Sept. 8
Pittsburgh under 7.5 was one of the easier win totals to cash in 2017. By the time Oklahoma State visited in Week 3, we knew the under was getting across the line. Last year the Panthers ranked 118th in explosiveness, 118th in field position and 116th in adjusted pace on offense. It was enough to put fans to sleep.
The good news is that Pitt has made a habit of upsetting teams in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Panthers defeated Clemson and Penn State in 2016 and Miami in 2017.
The bad news is head coach Pat Narduzzi has not developed the defense in the mold of Michigan State, where he served as Mark Dantonio’s defensive coordinator. The Narduzzi era in Pittsburgh has consisted of a sharp decline in havoc each season. The defense ranks 33rd in returning production and comes into the year overrated after it held Virginia Tech and Miami to fewer than three scores to end 2017.
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The Action Network projected win total is 4.8 and is right in line with the betting market. More than half the schedule looks to be a coin-flip situation with point spreads below a touchdown either way. There is no value on the win total, but we can look to the nonconference slate where Narduzzi often struggles to cover.
What else you should know about Pitt
I am focusing on Penn State’s visit to Heinz Field on Sept. 8. The last time James Franklin coached at Heinz Field, clap cadence wound up costing him a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Penn State rebounded to win and cover in State College last year, but Franklin is the kind of head coach who does not forget. Additionally, Pitt ranked 101st in defending pass explosiveness last year, and that is not a good formula to beat — or cover against — a quarterback such as Trace McSorley.
Pitt has replaced defensive coordinator Josh Conklin with Randy Bates, formerly of Northwestern. Franklin faced a Bates defense last season in a 31-7 victory over the Wildcats. Trace McSorley had one of his best passing games against Northwestern in 2017 and should do the same against Pitt in 2018 as we roll to the window with Penn State -13.5.