Friday Night Lights: Pitt at ‘Cuse and Utah St. at BYU
Published on Oct. 4, 2012, at 5:32 p.m. Eastern
By Brian Edwards
Bettors have a pair of college football games to wager on Friday night. The action starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern when Syracuse (1-3 straight up, 1-3 against the spread) plays host to Pittsburgh at the Carrier Dome.
As of late Thursday afternoon, most books were listing the Orange as a 1 1/2-point favorite with a total of 58 for ‘over/under’ plays.
Syracuse lost its opener at home to Northwestern 42-41 as a two-point home favorite. In Week 2, the Orange lost a 42-29 decision to USC in the Meadowlands but easily hooked up its backers as a 24 ½-point underdog.
Doug Marrone’s squad slipped past Stony Brooke 28-17 before losing 17-10 at Minnesota as a three-point road favorite on Sept. 22.
Syracuse has one of the Big East’s premier signal callers in senior Ryan Nassib, who has completed 67.1 percent of his throws for 1,355 yards with a 10/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Senior WR Marcus Sales is favorite target. Sales has 26 catches for 370 yards and five touchdowns.
Pittsburgh (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) has won back-to-back games since getting off to a disappointing start. The Panthers lost their season opener to Youngstown St. 31-17 as 18 ½-point home favorites. Next, they got humiliated on national television in a 34-10 loss at Cincinnati on a Thursday night as 4 ½-point underdogs.
But Paul Chryst’s responded nicely by trouncing Va. Tech 35-17 as a 10-point home underdog in Week 3. Tino Sunseri completed 19-of-28 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns against the Hokies.
Rushel Shell rushed 23 times for 158 yards, while Ray Graham added 94 rushing yards and a pair of TD runs on 24 carries. The Pitt defense forced four turnovers by Va. Tech, intercepting Logan Thomas three times.
Before last week’s open date, Pitt mauled Gardner Webb 55-10 as a 40-point home ‘chalk.’ Sunseri threw for 344 yards and three TDs without being intercepted. Graham rushed for 94 yards and one TD on just eight carries.
For the season, Sunseri has connected on 67.2 percent of his passes for 1,144 yards with an 8/2 TD-INT ratio.
Mike Shanahan has made a team-high 21 catches for 368 yards and three TDs. Graham has rushed for 362 yards and three TDs, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Pitt has won seven in a row against the ‘Cuse, going 5-2 ATS in the last encounters. The Panthers won a 33-20 decision last year as eight-point home favorites.
The ‘over’ is 2-1 overall for the ‘Cuse, 1-1 for the Panthers.
Following ESPN’s telecast of Pitt-Syracuse, the network will take us out West for Utah St. at Brigham Young. Most spots are listing BYU (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) as a seven-point favorite with a total of 46. Gamblers can take the Aggies on the money line for a plus-230 payout (risk $100 to win $230).
BYU bounced back from a 7-6 loss at Boise St. to thump Hawaii by a 47-0 count last Friday. Making his first career start, freshman QB Taysom Hill rushed 15 times for 143 yards and one TD against the Warriors. Hill also threw for 112 yards and two TDs.
Bronco Mendenhall’s team began the year with a 30-6 win over Washington St. as a 13 ½-point home favorite. Next, the Cougars beat Weber St. 45-13 before dropping a 24-21 heartbreaker at Utah.
Hill got his first start last week because QB Riley Nelson was ‘out’ with a back injury. Nelson remains ‘out’ this week.
Utah St. (4-1 SU, 4-0-1 ATS) should be undefeated but it missed a short field goal on the final play of the game in a 16-14 loss at Wisconsin on Sept. 15. The Aggies have posted victories vs. Southern Utah (34-3), vs. Utah (27-20 in OT), at Colorado St. (31-19) and vs. UNLV (35-13).
Gary Andersen’s team has a dynamite sophomore QB in Chuckie Keeton, who has completed 67.7 percent of his attempts for 1,281 yards with an 11/4 TD-INT ratio. Keeton can also get it done with his legs, rushing for 218 yards.
During Mendenhall’s eight-year tenure, BYU has compiled a 22-16 spread record as a home favorite. On Andersen’s watch, Utah St. has thrived as a road underdog with a remarkable 12-2 ATS ledger.
The ‘under’ is a perfect 4-0 for Utah St. and 3-1 overall for BYU.