The Pitt Panthers continue their last go-around through the Big East when they visit Hartford for some Friday night NCAA action against the UConn Huskies (8 pm ET, ESPN2).
Both teams are desperate for victories in their fading efforts to become bowl-eligible, but the situation is more dire for UConn, which has lost four straight.
Predictably, they were sitting as three-point home underdogs at most sportsbooks tracked by OddsShark.com as of Thursday.
Pitt has lurched to a 4-5 record in its first season under new head coach Paul Chryst. The Panthers opened this season with losses to Youngstown State (FCS) and Cincinnati, then won two straight, beating Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb (FCS). Pitt then lost to Syracuse and Louisville, then won two in a row again, beating Buffalo and Temple.
Then, last Saturday, the Panthers outplayed undefeated Notre Dame in South Bend for three quarters, but allowed the Irish to score twice in the fourth to send the game to overtime tied at 20.
Pitt then missed a chance at the upset when kicker Kevin Harper missed a 33-yard field goal in the second OT, and the Panthers eventually lost 29-26.
So with three games to play Pitt is still two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible.
On the season, the Panthers have been outrushed by a 151-150 YPG margin, which is an unwelcome change after outrushing their foes each of the previous five seasons.
Connecticut, meanwhile, began its second season under HC Paul Pasqualoni by winning three of its first five games. But the Huskies have now lost their last four in a row, thanks in large part to an ineffective offense.
UConn scored three points in losing at Rutgers, 14 points in losing to Temple, 10 points in losing at Syracuse and, last Saturday, six points in falling at South Florida.
Defensively Connecticut has only allowed 290 YPG this season; offensively the Huskies are only averaging 318 YPG and less than 17 PPG.
With three games remaining on its schedule at 3-6, Connecticut needs to win out to become bowl-eligible.
The Panthers have won three of the last four games in this series. Last year, Pitt racked up over 500 yards of offense in beating the Huskies 35-20, covering the spread as 10-point favorites.
One word of caution on this game; three Pitt players, including RB Ray Graham, were supposedly involved in an off-field scuffle a couple of weeks ago, and while they played vs. Notre Dame, there's always a chance suspensions could be handed down.
Bettors might want to stay up-to-date on this situation before getting down on this game.
Free Pick: Neither of these teams has done much to impress anybody this season. But on the strength of their defense, we'll take the points and the Huskies as home dogs. (courtesy of PickShark.com)
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