What are the Odds: Full football slate awaits

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Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor

Louisville, one of the best offensive units in the conference, managed just two field goals while struggling to move the ball and protect their quarterback against Pitt.

By Ben Bobeck, Staff Writer

Welcome back to a new season of What Are The Odds.

Last time I offered my wisdom, we had hit the lowest point in our search for winning wagers, looking to events such as the Belarusian Premier League, Marble Racing and — sadly — even the weather.

But a new fall is upon us, with new hopes and a full slate of football — or maybe not.

For those new to this column, a reminder that The Pitt News does not condone illegal gambling. Sports gambling is illegal in Pennsylvania under the age of 21. All line info used in this series is courtesy of OddsShark.com.

With that out of the way, away we go!

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 31-22

NCAA Football:

North Carolina State @ No. 24 Pitt -14 (over/under 47.5)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Pitt football has a pretty good defense this season. Like, really good. Like, best in the nation by some measures good. Look at what that unit did to the poor Louisville offense — one of the best offensive units in the conference — last week, limiting the Cunningham, Atwell and Hawkins-led unit to 223 total yards compared to the 501.5 per game Louisville had managed through its first two contests versus Western Kentucky and Miami. Besides scores off one long run by Hawkins and a Panther turnover deep in Pitt territory, Louisville managed just two field goals while struggling to move the ball and protect their quarterback. 

NC State’s offense isn’t nearly on the same level as the Cardinals. With Kenny Pickett and the offense due to improve their showing against a poor Wolfpack defense that let up 40 points to Virginia Tech’s backup quarterback — more on that in a moment — this defense should limit any production and scoring from NCST. Take the Wolfpack team under.

The Pick: NC State team under 16.5 

No. 7 Auburn @ No. 4 Georgia -6.5 (over/under 44.5)

This will most certainly be the more captivating marquee matchup of top-15 SEC teams, with Alabama and Texas A&M leaning much heavier towards the Tide. Auburn and Georgia both started the season with what, on paper, seem like convincing wins. But if you paid any attention to the Dawgs’ first half against Arkansas last week, you’ll remember Kirby Smart’s Georgia team heading to the locker room trailing 7-5.

After losing Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman to a preseason opt-out, Smart handed the keys to redshirt first-year D’Wan Mathis, before pulling him after six drives for junior Stetson Bennett with the offense struggling to move the ball. Georgia exploded for 22 points in the third quarter, pulling away for a 37-10 win over the Hogs, but with the medical clearance for USC transfer JT Daniels, major uncertainties persist under center for the Dawgs.

Contrasted with what sophomore Bo Nix and Auburn showed in their solid win over No. 23 Kentucky, go with 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year Nix and the consistency of the Tigers — the moneyline at +205 is intriguing, but at least take the points.

The Pick: Auburn and the points +6.5

Texas Tech @ Kansas St. -2.5 (over/under 64)

Texas Tech had arguably the worst loss of last week, collapsing from a two score lead late in the fourth quarter to fall in overtime against Texas, while Kansas State may have had the biggest win, knocking off Oklahoma for the second year in a row.

Red Raiders QB Alan Bowman had an explosive game with five touchdowns, but three interceptions kept the Longhorns in it. None of those picks came too late in the game, and Texas’ defense is a much tougher opponent than the one rolling out of the Little Apple — Manhattan, Kansas. Bowman and Texas Tech close this one out, take the Red Raiders moneyline.

The Pick: Red Raiders +115 (moneyline)

Virginia Polytechnic @ Duke +12.5 (over/under 54)

23 Hokie players missing in action — including starting QB Hendon Hooker— due to contact tracing or COVID-19 issues? No problem for Justin Fuente’s Virginia Tech team as they dispatched NC State easily in their delayed season opener, covering the five and a half point spread by a mile.

Behind the arm of backup QB and Oregon transfer Braxton Burmeister, the Hokies took a difficult situation in stride and never lost focus. Credit to Fuente and the entire coaching staff and team for that performance.

That sort of mental fortitude and determination will carry over against a Duke team that showed good fight against Notre Dame, but came out flat versus Boston College and struggled last week at Virginia to drop them to 0-3 overall and in conference play. Don’t expect things to get any easier for head coach David Cutcliffe and quarterback Chase Brice as the Hokies will cover the 12.

The Pick: VPI -12.5 Gobble Gobble

NFL:

New Orleans Saints @ Detroit Lions +4 (over/under 54)

New Orleans has struggled to begin the season, starting 1-2 as Alvin Kamara shoulders the offensive load with Drew Brees showing his age and Michael Thomas injured on the sidelines. Thomas looks set to make his return to action this week, however.

This line opened at Saints -6, according to OddsShark, and I find the movement in favor of Detroit puzzling. The Lions slightly impressed for the first time in recent memory with a late victory over a good Cardinals team last week, but I still trust New Orleans to shake off the funk in the Motor City.

The Pick: Saints march on -4

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