Week 6 NCAAF Line Movers: Syracuse-Pitt Odds Going Bonkers

Friday, October 5, 2018 12:54 PM UTC

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 12:54 PM UTC

Most bettors are on the Syracuse Orange this Saturday, but the college football lines are moving towards the Pittsburgh Panthers – and they’re moving in a big way.

Jason’s 2018-19 NCAAF picks record: 9-4 ATS; 0-1 ML (minus-1.00 units), 0-1 Totals

Syracuse at PittsburghSaturday, 12:20 p.m. ET, Pittsburgh (ACCNE)Free NCAAF Pick: Syracuse -3.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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What the deuce?! Here we are at the home office, scouring the Week 6 NCAAF odds board for all the interesting line moves, and who should we find but our old pals, the Syracuse Orange. You may recall last week’s award-smelting article where we recommended the Orange as 26-point road dogs versus the Clemson Tigers, after the No. 3 Tigers had opened at –21. The closing lines fell somewhere in between at –24.5, but it didn’t matter: Clemson needed a comeback to win 27-23.

So here we are with Syracuse (4-1 SU, 4-0-1 ATS) visiting the Pittsburgh Panthers (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS), whom we took advantage of way back in Week 1 against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Orange opened as 6-point favorites for Saturday’s matchup; our consensus reports show 68 percent of bettors on Syracuse, but as we go to press, the spread is down to –3. That would suggest the sharp money’s on Pitt. Or would it?

Sixth-String Orchestra

Maybe not, if we’re reading the projections and doing the math correctly:

  • ESPN Football Power Index: Syracuse 75.6 percent
  • Equivalent Moneyline (using SBR Odds Converter): Syracuse –310
  • Equivalent Point Spread (via Wizard of Odds): Syracuse –9.5


What is this I don’t even. It’s entirely possible the FPI projections have read too much into Syracuse going toe-to-toe with Clemson, who were down to former sixth-string QB Chase Brice after Trevor Lawrence was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. And even with the Tigers on their schedule, the Orange (14.45 SOS) have faced weaker opposition than Pitt (17.71 SOS) thus far, according to the lovable football nerds at Sports Reference. Hmmmm.

Third and Wrong

You can definitely make the case that Syracuse are overrated at this point. They barely missed out on cracking the Top 25 in both the AP and coaches polls, but according to the F/+ Ratings at Football Outsiders, the Orange rank No. 47 overall in efficiency. However, if you want to find Pittsburgh, you have to look down, waaaay down, all the way down to No. 92.

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I might be the only one who finds this interesting, but here is where the ACC ranks in S&P+ special teams:

Syracuse: 1
VT: 2
UNC: 13
Duke: 25
Louisville: 31
Clemson: 65
BC: 70
Miami: 76
Wake: 79
GT: 95
FSU: 100
NC State: 109
UVa: 125
Pitt: 127

— Lauren Brownlow (@lebrownlow) October 1, 2018
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There’s one area where the Panthers have outperformed Syracuse: third-down conversions, where Pitt checks in at 45.31 percent – well ahead of the Orange at 36.84 percent. But even this is bad news for the home side. Third-down conversion rate is one of those high-variance stats that tends to regress towards the mean, in this case the mean quality of the offense in question. And the Syracuse offense has outperformed Pittsburgh’s by a fair margin.

That gap should widen even further on Saturday when the Orange defense gets a hold of Pitt’s dubious offensive line. We’ll stick with Syracuse for our NCAAF picks this week, but in deference to what appears to be big money on the Panthers, make it a small wager, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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