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ESPN offers up a second straight night of Big East football. After favored Cincinnati won at South Florida on Thursday, Pittsburgh will try to duplicate the feat at Rutgers on Friday night, and again reward bettors. The Panthers are a 5.5-point favorite a



2009-10-16

ESPN offers up a second straight night of Big East football. After favored Cincinnati won at South Florida on Thursday, Pittsburgh will try to duplicate the feat at Rutgers on Friday night, and again reward bettors. The Panthers are a 5.5-point favorite at last check and backed by over 80% of players at Sportsbook.com. Follow the BETTING TRENDS page all the way until kickoff for changing numbers.

The look on Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt is often pained. Some say it a reminder of his own coaching limitations while others suggest Wanny is not often pleased with the results his teams provide. Whatever the reason, mention the team "Rutgers" and you are sure to see a head snap, a shoulder shrug and eyes downcast. "They've had our number the last four years," Wannstedt said.

Pittsburgh (5-1, 3-2 ATS) has dropped four in a row to the Scarlet Knights, failing to cover the spread three times. It's no magic formula either, Rutgers has whipped the Panthers running the ball down their throats and passing them silly.

Coach Wannstedt believes his squad is better equipped to handle the assignment this year with a very sturdy defensive front seven that is that permitting just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground. The Pitt offense has been sharp all season, averaging better than 34 points per game. The running game has really come together behind a road-grating offense line and freshman running sensation Dion Lewis. Pittsburgh averages 5.0 yards per carry against defenses that have allowed 3.8 YPC. The Panthers are 12-4 ATS in October of late.

One of the most improved quarterbacks in the country is Bill Stull of Pitt. Anyone who saw him play in last year's Sun Bowl would have thought he would have a hard time making the team again. But Stull worked hard in the off-season and presently has 13 TD passes while throwing only three interceptions.

"Bill Stull is playing at an efficiency level that is as good as anyone in the country," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. Pittsburgh is 19th in the country in yards per pass attempt as 8.5.

Rutgers (4-1, 1-2 ATS) is a hard team to have a very good feel about. They were overwhelmed by Cincinnati in the season opener 47-7, before anyone knew how good the Bearcats were. Home wins over FCS teams Howard and Texas Southern offer no insight and Florida International and Maryland are frequently good homecoming opponents.

Here are a few things we do know about Rutgers. Their defense, sixth ranked versus the rush in the country, might be somewhat fraudulent, nonetheless nothing fake about forcing 15 turnovers in last four games, no matter the competition level. They shutout Texas Southern 42-0 in last contest and are 8-1-1 ATS off a SU victory.

True freshman quarterback Tom Savage is a real talent and has started three games. He played some against Cincinnati, but this will be his first real test under center involving Big East football.

The offensive line returned all five starters and was presumed to be the strength of the team. They haven't played up to press clippings and though the running game has improved against inferior teams, they have allowed 14 sacks through five games, the most in the conference. With Pittsburgh having a very good defensive line, the Rutgers O-Line has stay out of third and longs to help their youthful field general. The Knights are 4-1-1 ATS after a win by 20 or more points.

Sportsbook.com has Pittsburgh as 3.5-point road favorites with total having fallen dramatically from 51 to 45.5. The Panthers are 9-4 ATS on the road, but are just 6-13 ATS as favorites. They are 6-2 UNDER after totaling 450 or more yards of offense. Rutgers is in a role they are very comfortable in; showcasing 10-4 ATS mark as home underdog. The Scarlet Knights are 6-0 UNDER after a game where they forced three or more turnovers since 2007.

This the second Big East nationally televised cable matchup on ESPN in two nights and it starts at 8 Eastern, with the underdog 6-1 against the spread in the series. Rutgers cannot afford a second conference loss with five more games to play.

The StatFox Outplay Factor Rating suggest Pittsburgh will cover. Sportsbook has all the wagering options for this game available on the LIVE ODDS page.


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