Connecticut Huskies vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
The Connecticut Huskies travel to Heinz Field to tangle with the Pittsburgh Panthers in a Big East match up Wednesday. Both teams come in off of byes with the Huskies defeating South Florida 16-10 in week seven while the Panthers dropped a 26-10 decision to Utah at home. The Panthers are -10.5 favorites over the Huskies with n over/under point total set at 55.
The key to winning for Connecticut is strong defense combined with a ball control offense that needs to take advantage of every scoring opportunity they get as the yards have not been easy to come by in 2011. This formula worked to perfection against South Florida with the Huskies getting the most out of just 253 total yards. The running game that has been the UConn calling card for years hasn’t been as productive in 2011 but Lyle McCombs gave Pittsburgh enough to worry about after his 32 carry, 130 yard day. That meant Connecticut would have to get something positive from the passing of Johnny McEntree and that happened but barely in a very short attack. McEntree was 13 of 23 for 103 yards and was under pressure throughout. At the final gun it was the defense that saved the day by holding the Panthers to 339 yards, 3 of 11 on third down and by recovering two fumbles and intercepting a pair of passes with the game winning score coming via a ten yard fumble return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
What is wrong with Pittsburgh? The obvious is the offense isn’t scoring and the defense isn’t making enough stops but the talent on this team hasn’t translated in to winning. The Panthers have dropped back to back games after the loss to Utah and have lost four of five overall. The Pitt offense is not moving the ball and is complicating things with mistakes. The Panthers totaled just 120 yards and were 3 of 15 on third down while giving the ball away three times. Pitts bread and butter used to be their rushing attack but that’s been hit or miss and mostly miss against the Utes with less than 90 yards. Quarterback Tino Sunseri has not been able to duplicate his success from a season ago and had his poorest performance off the year thus far when he completed 4 of 11 passes for 38 yards. Sunseri was replaced with Trey Anderson (5-19/12) but he fared no better with a pair of picks with one taken back for a TD. The Panthers defense was solid, allowing only 251 yards but were battling Utah and their own mistake prone offense.
At this point in the season we see a Connecticut squad that needs their defense to control the scoreboard and win the battle for field position because their offense isn’t going to drive the field and score. I honestly have no clue about the Panthers as the expectations for the new offense and coaching staff were obviously misplaced so far. Take the Huskies plus the points here.
Connecticut Huskies +10.5 Louisville Cardinals