Pittsburgh Looking To Cap A Good Season With Win At Pinstripe Bowl

Pitt Panthers Holding Their Helmets high

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, December 8, 2016 7:03 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 7:03 PM UTC

Our expert college handicapper breaks down the Pinstripe Bowl to be played on December 28th between the Pittsburgh Panthers and Northwestern Wildcats.

Pinstripe Bowl: Pittsburgh Panthers vs Northwestern Wildcats

2015-16 NCAAF Record: 38-33-2, +1.60 Units 

In the first meeting between these two schools, the 23rd ranked and 8-4 Pittsburgh Panthers of the ACC will meet the 6-6 Northwestern Wildcats of the Big 10 in the Pinstripe Bowl played at Yankee Stadium on December 28th. This relatively new bowl game is sponsored by New Era and has been played since 2010. With Pitt having the better record on a neutral site, it is no surprise that they have been slated as 4.5 to 5-point favorites over the Wildcats across the board.

Pittsburgh’s season has been defined by two huge wins over teams that ended up being 3rd in Clemson and 5th in Penn State in the final regular-season AP poll. That 42-39 win over Penn State was as a 3-point favorite in the odds board, though, so us bettors were not surprised by that result. No, it was the last second win on the road at Clemson as a 21.5-point underdog that raised some eyebrows of the betting public. The another trend that has bettors excited is the 10 game Over streak that the Panthers are on. The O/U total for this game has opened at 66.5 points.

The Panthers are led by senior quarterback and Tennessee transfer, Nathan Peterman. Peterman has improved his overall numbers on the year but continues to be good at preventing turnovers. After an excellent 2015 campaign of putting in a 19/5 TD/INT ratio, he bettered that mark in 2016 by throwing 26 touchdowns to just 6 picks. Add into his 2,602 yards passing the ability to scramble a bit and you have a dangerous player on offense. Running the ball for Pitt is another senior, James Conner, who has put up 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. Conner will be looking for his 4th 100+ yard game in a row against the Wildcats in this game.

 For Northwestern, though, defending the run happens to be their strong suit. They average 136.7 yards allowed on the ground per game this year, a statistic that will go up against the Panthers record of gaining 229.8 yards on the ground per game. But to win this game they will have to put up some points, and for that, they will turn to the duo in senior wide receiver, Austin Carr (1,196 yards, 12 touchdowns) and junior running back, Justin Jackson (1,300 yards, 12 touchdowns). Running the offense will be sophomore quarterback, Clayton Thorson, whose 2,968 passing yards is more than double his output in his freshman season.

With this game being in New York in late December, weather could definitely be a factor. Playing the game in snow or rain would help Penn State’s running defense and hamper the Panther’s passing attack. 66.5 would be the highest total for either team to go across, but Pitt would have exceeded that number in their last ten games. In the end, though, the wins for Pittsburgh against Penn State and Clemson tell me that they can beat teams with a variety of styles. That’s important when you are looking at a matchup between teams who have never played each other. The Panther’s look to be a deserving favorite and worth laying the 4.5 points on at 5Dimes.

Free College Football Pick: Pitt -4.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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