Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse Picks & Odds: Sneaky Edges Offer Betting Value

Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse Picks & Odds: Sneaky Edges Offer Betting Value article feature image

Rob Kinnan, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Dino Babers, Tommy DeVito

  • Syracuse and Pitt square off on Friday night and the latest betting odds have Pitt as a 3.5-point favorite and the over/under as 53.5.
  • What are the sneaky advantages that are offering betting value? See our expert's pick and analysis for this ACC showdown, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

Pitt at Syracuse Picks & Odds

  • Spread: Pittsburgh -3.5
  • Over/Under: 52
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

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Line Movement for Syracuse-Pitt

Opening numbers for this game varied by sportsbook, but at one point or another just about every book listed Pitt at an even -3 (some were even inside the key number for a short time). The entire market has moved on from that line by this point, listing the Panthers as 3.5-point favorites behind 55% of bets and 56% of money.

As for the total, while it’s bounced between 50.5 and 52.5 several times since opening, oddsmakers are currently sitting right in the middle of the range at 51.5. The over has generated 71% of money on 55% of bets. — Danny Donahue

Stuckey: Too Much Disrespect for Syracuse?

The two big issues for Syracuse’s defense this year has been its overall play at linebacker and its inability to prevent long plays through the air. The Orange have allowed 26 pass plays of 20-plus yards on the season, putting them in the bottom-20 in that metric.

Part of Syracuse’s inefficiencies on defense can be attributed to some key injuries in the secondary. The Orange have been without 2018 Freshman All-American safety Andre Cisco, who was a havoc beast last year with seven interceptions and 11 pass breakups. Cisco hasn’t played since getting hurt in the third game of the year against Clemson on Sep. 14.

He had an interception in each of his first two games this year. Cisco dressed last week but didn’t play against NC State. However, I expect him to play this week since he’s listed on the official depth chart — even if it’s with an OR (he is the top name, which is a good sign).

Syracuse has also been without starting corner Ifeatu Melifonwu since that Clemson game. And like Cisco, he’s also listed at the top of an OR on the depth chart.

If both suit up on Friday night, the Syracuse secondary should see an immediate improvement overall, particularly in regards to limiting big plays and creating turnovers.

Also, don’t sleep on the enormous advantage Syracuse will have on special teams. The Orange have one of the best special teams units in the country thanks to an elite punter and kicker, while Pitt has had one of the worst special teams units in NCAA in 2019. Here are a few highlights demonstrating this discrepancy:

  • Syracuse ranks second in the nation with a 45.16 net punting average. Pitt ranks 98th at 36.42
  • Syracuse has allowed just 12 opponent punt return yards on 37 punts. Pitt has allowed 177 on one less punt.
  • Andre Szmyt, who won the Lou Groza Award last year as a freshman, is one of the best kickers in the nation. He did show his human side with a miss off the upright (his only miss of the year) last week but Pitt’s Alex Kessman, who does have a strong leg, has made just 6-of-12 field goals this year.
  • Syracuse is averaging 11.44 yards per punt return; Pitt 6.83
  • Syracuse hasn’t been great on kickoff returns but Pitt has been even worse

I think you get the point. No matter where you look, Syracuse has the edge on special teams. They should win the field-position battle and be more reliable when it comes to field goals all night long.

Pitt’s also the fourth-most penalized team in the country (83.17 penalty yards per game) which can be a killer on road games against similar competition.

The Syracuse offensive line and inaccuracy of Tommy DeVito does scare me but since I make this game a pick ’em, I’ll likely roll with the home dog small at +3.5, especially if we get some positive injury news in that Orange secondary.

The Pick: Syracuse +3.5

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