There are plenty of intriguing matchups across the country on the Week 1 college football schedule, but few carry as much significance as the ACC showdown between Pittsburgh and Virginia. Very rarely do we see an opening-week game that could very well decide a division winner, but this one could go a long way in determining the eventual winner of the the ACC’s Coastal Division (and the team that eventually has to deal with Clemson in the conference’s championship game). Let’s get into it in our Pitt-Virginia betting preview.
I love meaningful conference games with short spreads. No need to go slummin’ with some power five school bullying an FCS squad as a 40-point favorite when there’s a game like this on the board.
As if this game needed any additional intrigue, you can even bet on it while tailgating in the parking lot or sitting in your seat at Heinz Field now that online sports betting PA is live and legal.
Let’s run down everything you need to know before locking in your picks for this one.
How to Bet on Pittsburgh-Virginia
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How to Watch Pittsburgh-Virginia
- Date: Saturday, August 31
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Location: Heinz Field (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Network: ACC Network
Here are the current Pittsburgh-Virginia odds at the top online sportsbooks:
|Virginia||-2.5 (-115)||-140||O 46.5 (-110)|
|Pittsburgh||+2.5 (-105)||+120||U 46.5 (-110)|
|Virginia||-3 (+100)||-141||O 46.5 (-110)|
|Pittsburgh||+3 (-120)||+117||U 46.5 (-110)|
ALERT. ALERT. TONS OF VALUE ON THE PITTSBURGH MONEYLINE.
At +121 moneyline odds, the implied probability of a Pittsburgh win is 45.2%, but ESPN’s FPI gives them a 53% win probability, meaning that you’re getting a pretty good value price on a Pitt outright win.
Bryce Perkins emerged as one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks a season ago and looks to build on his 2018 success in his final season as Virginia’s starting quarterback. After winning only two games in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season, Virginia won six games in 2017 and nine games a season ago. With a talented defense that returns seven starters, including elite cornerback Bryce Hall, many observers believe that their time has finally arrived. If it truly has, they’ll need to knock off last season’s Coastal Division champion, the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Pitt won the ACC’s Coastal Division last season despite what was at times a rocky 7-7 campaign. That will be no small task as the Panthers have dominated this series since joining the ACC, winning five of the six meetings between the two teams.
Pitt, however, must answer some questions. How will they replace top defensive lineman Rashad Weaver? And how will they replace Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, each of whom rushed for 1,000 yards last season?
Moreover, new offensive coordinator must find ways to push junior quarterback Kenny Pickett, who played better down the stretch after a shaky start, to the next level. For Pittsburgh to repeat as Coastal champs, they’ll need more from Pickett who threw for 1,969 yards and only 12 touchdowns in 2018.
Why Backing Pittsburgh is a Good Bet
Pitt has been a good underdog playing under Pat Narduzzi. The Panthers are 15-11-2 ATS overall as an underdog during his tenure, but they have been simply outstanding under him as a home underdog of four points or less— they are 5-1 ATS in such games.
From a more general perspective, the Panthers are 10-4 ATS as a home dog of four points or less. They are also 6-3 ATS against conference opponents (including when they were in the Big East) as an underdog of three points or less dating back to the 2005 season and 4-2 ATS in this role against ACC squads.
There’s some variance in this trend from year-to-year, but ACC teams that were road favorites of three points or less were only 1-6 ATS last season.
Why Backing Virginia is a Good Bet
Let’s first reiterate the contextual reasons to like Virginia. They have both the superior quarterback and superior defense, not to mention it feels like their arrow is pointing up. We’ll start there.
From a trends standpoint, there are a couple of trends that support a UVA play, albeit they aren’t particularly strong.
Mendenhall’s Virginia teams have been a solid 3-1 ATS when favored by six or less points.
Lastly, Pittsburgh hasn’t been a particularly good cover team under Narduzzi at home as they are only 11-14-1 ATS in such games.
As of Friday night at 7:30 p.m., 68% of spread bets and 65% of spread money is behind Virginia at reporting markets.
This is a tough game to diagnose for so many reasons. Ultimately, I’m going to back Perkins and what seems to be an ascending Virginia squad on the road. I know ACC road squads that were short favorites struggled last season, but the year-to-year variance of that trend makes it a bit less daunting.
Prediction: Virginia 26, Pittsburgh 18