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West Virginia vs Pittsburgh, 9/1/22 NCAAF Free Pick, Odds, Preview, Prediction.



NCAAF (9/1/22)

7:00PM Eastern Time

Spread: West Virginia +7.5 / Pittsburgh -7.5

Moneyline: West Virginia +250 / Pittsburgh -300

Total: Over / Under 51.5


An old-time rivalry known as the Backyard Brawl gets renewed to kick off the 2022 College football season. The West Virginia Mountaineers and Pittsburgh Panthers meet for the first time since 2011 at Acrisure Stadium Thursday night. Pitt leads the all-time series 61-41-3. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00p.m. eastern and the game airs nationally on ESPN.


WEST VIRGINIA


WVU’s offense got off on the right foot after an abysmal 2021 offensive campaign, landing big name QB transfer J.T. Daniels out of Georgia. Daniels was the starter for UGA, but an injury opened the door for Stenson Bennett and he never regained the starting role. They also brought in a new offensive coordinator in Graham Harrell who led USC to the #1 passing offense in the Pac-12 a season ago. There is some familiarity as J.T. Daniels used to play for Harrell at USC earlier in his career. Harrell’s helped produce NFL talent like WR Michael Pittman Jr (IND), WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET), RB Jeff Wilson (SF), and most recently WR Drake London who was just drafted #8 Overall by Atlanta. He has his work cut out for him implementing his offense, but WVU does return all 5 starters on the offensive line from last year.


Despite having a very bad offense the Mountaineers weren’t awful defensively. They surrendered an average of 24.3 PPG, which ranked 47tht nationally. Having played opposite an offense that ranked 87th and 88th in yards and points per game, I find that impressive. They bring a ton of experience at linebacker and safety into 2022 and brought in a pair of CBs via the transfer portal. The defensive line returns a couple big name starters in Dante Stills and Taijh Alston. Stills could have gone pro and figured to be a late round pick but ultimately decided to return. Taijh Alston racked up 5 sacks and 11 TFL’s for WVU last year. Defensive Coordinator Jordan Lesley has plenty of new faces to work with but has a history of success during his tenure at West Virginia.


PITTSBURGH


Pitt’s lost quite a bit of talent from a season ago, QB Kenny Pickett was the 20th overall pick of the NFL draft, Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison transferred to USC, and Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple left for Nebraska. Frank Cignetti Jr takes over as OC, an OC that primarily runs his offense through the ground game. He does get QB Kedon Slovis from USC to fill Kenny Pickett’s shoes. Slovis was the QB that ran the #1 ranked PAC-12 passing offense for now WVU’s offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. Like West Virginia they return all 5 starting offensive lineman and they also get their leading rusher back. Israel Abanikanda led the Panthers with 651 rushing yards last season.


The one thing you can count on for Pitt this year is a stacked defensive front. They have one of the best defensive lines in the country by any metric. According to PFF, Interior DL Calijah Kancey grades out as the best defensive lineman in College Football and playing beside him are two edge defenders ranked in the top 15 in the ACC. Defensive Ends Habakkuk Baldonado and Deslin Alexandre. Defensive Coordinator Randy Bates will leave his secondary on an island quite often but his front 7 is going to get home.


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The Pick


I’ve got West Virginia covering +7.5 tonight. Both teams have new offenses to install but J.T. Daniels having worked with Harrell before goes a long way in my opinion. It’s more of a refresher for Daniels instead of an install. On top of that Daniel’s did earn the starting Job at Georgia, having to face one of the toughest defenses in College Football history every week. That’s no small feat. Their veteran offensive line should hold up just enough for Daniels to make throws down the field. I anticipate plenty of big plays coming off his arm with Pitt corners on an island. There also isn’t a coach in College Football that knows Pitt’s QB Kedon Slovis’s strengths and weaknesses like West Virginia’s Graham Harrell. Harrell coached Slovis each of his first 3 seasons. Pitt’s also looking to run the ball more, they weren’t bad at it a season ago, but they didn’t do much of it. That’s going to slow down the pace of this game. With the drastic switch in philosophy and new players all over I don’t see Pitt’s offense executing at a high level in their first game of the season and West Virginia’s defense has been stingy under DC Jordan Lesley. This game will stay close.