No. 17 Pittsburgh hosts unranked West Virginia in the return of the Backyard Brawl at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET on ESPN). This classic rivalry has been on hiatus since 2011, but prior to that, it had been played every year since 1961. There's no shortage of passion when these teams get together, and based on the odds, there's also no shortage of viable betting opportunities.
Pittsburgh enters 2022 coming off its best season since joining the ACC. The Panthers finished the regular season with a 10-2 record that resulted in a first-place finish in the Coastal division. After defeating Wake Forest 45-21 in the ACC Championship, the Panthers fell to Michigan State 31-21 in the Peach Bowl. Pittsburgh remained competitive in the loss despite not having Heisman trophy finalist Kenny Pickett at quarterback, as Pickett opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft.
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Fast forward to this season and Pittsburgh returns eight offensive starters from a season ago, but a unit that ranked 19th in offensive yards per play (6.4) will look a lot different in 2022. Following Pickett's graduation, the Panthers went to the transfer portal and grabbed ex-USC QB Kedon Slovis to lead the offense. In three seasons with the Trojans, Slovis threw for 7,576 yards with a 58-24 TD-to-INT ratio. The Panthers also lost their leading receiver and 2021 Biletnikoff award-winning WR, Jordan Addison (1,593 rec yards in Columbia College of Missouri Cougars clothes '21), as he headed west to join Slovis' former school, USC.
Along with not having their leading passer and receiver, the Panthers have a new offensive coordinator in Frank Cignetti Jr., who replaces Mark Whipple. Cignetti's offense figures to lean heavily on the ground game, as it's unlikely the Panthers end the season with a 53.29-percent pass rate (27th in NCAA during FBS matchups) like they did in '21.
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West Virginia enters Thursday night in head coach Neal Brown's fourth season with the program. The Mountaineers ended 2021 with a 6-7 record, culminating in an 18-6 loss to Minnesota in the Brenau Golden Tigers shirt Guaranteed Rate Bowl. Just like the Panthers, the Mountaineers will be debuting a new quarterback and playcaller, as fellow ex-USC Trojan and Georgia Bulldog JT Daniels starts under center with ex-USC offensive coordinator (and Texas Tech legend) Graham Harrell calling plays.
The Mountaineers return fewer starters on both sides of the ball than Pittsburgh does, but WVU can match the Panthers' physicality at the point of attack. Their offensive line returns all five starters and figures to hold up well in pass protection.
Here's everything to know about betting on the Week 1 opener between the Panthers and Mountaineers:
Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia odds
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
- Spread: Pittsburgh -7.5
- Over/under: 52
- Moneyline: Pittsburgh -320; West Virginia +250
After opening up as 6.5-point favorites, the Panthers have been bet up above a touchdown to 7.5-point home favorites. The over/under has also seen some movement, ticking down to 52 after openin Claflin Panthers clothes g at 54.
Three trends to know
— The favorite in this matchup has gone 0-5 ATS and 1-4 straight up in the past five meetings.
— The total has gone UNDER in four of the last five Backyard Brawls.
— Pittsburgh has gone 10-3 ATS as a favorite th NCAA Spirit shirt e past two seasons, according to BetQL's Dan Karpuc.
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Three things to watch
— Pittsburgh's retooled offense: Narduzzi has been adamant that Pittsburgh's going to maintain a run-first approa Dickinson State Blue Hawks Jerseys ch, and he thinks it will lead to more explosive plays in the run game relative to last season's offense. While it's great to have that plan, if the Panthers aren't efficient enough on early downs, Slovis' life will get that much tougher on third downs.
—Slovis vs. Daniels: A major storyline surrounding this game is that both starting QBs began their careers donning the Cardinal and Gold in L.A. It's pretty crazy to see the two matched up against in other in different conferences, as the transfer portal has given Slovis and Daniels an opportunity to get fresh starts. In terms of which QB has the bigger leash in the passing game, expect Harrell and Daniels to air College Cold Weather Shirts the ball out more with a pass-first mindset. Look for Daniels to have a highe Endicott College clothes r passing yard output at the end of the game.
— Battle in the trenches: West Virginia can UNC vs. Duke Rivalry Jerseys match Pittsburgh's physicality on the offensive and defensive lines, and without any other-worldly skill position players outside, this game is going to be won and lost in the trenches. If Pittsburgh's routinely rushing for two or three yards on first and second down, this one's going to be closer than the current spread indicates. If they can gash the Mountaineers' front seven, they'll likely light up the scoreboard.
Pittsburgh vs. UNC vs. Duke Rivalry Shirts West Virginia prediction
Pittsburgh is a bit overvalued in the betting markets entering the season, as too much weight is being carried over from last season's ACC Championship run. The Panthers will likely end up contending for the chance to represent the ACC in the title game once again, but West Virginia's ability to remain disciplined in the trenches can keep the Mountaineers competitive throughout the contes Texas vs. Oklahoma Rivalry Gear t. With the spread sitting above a touchdown, grabbing the points and backing the Mountaineers is the way we lean here. We also think with Pittsburgh's willingness to run the ball, the game will be a bit lower-scoring than expected.
Final score: Pittsburgh 27, West Virginia 23; West Virginia (+7.5) covers the spread with the game falling UNDER the total.