The third chapter of the “Keystone Classic” will take place on Saturday, as the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. These two teams have split the last two meetings and each one is looking for a key win early in the season. Kickoff inside Heinz Field is at 8 PM ET.
|Betting Data||Penn State Nittany Lions||Pittsburgh Panthers|
|Current S/U record||1-0||1-0|
|2018 ATS Home||0-1||1-0|
|2018 ATS Away||0-0||0-0|
|2018 O/U Home||1-0||0-1|
|2018 O/U Away||0-1||0-0|
This is the 99th all-time meeting between these two in-state, bitter rivals. PSU holds the advantage with an all-time record of 51-43-4. In 2016, the two schools decided to renew their rivalry after a 16-year hiatus. It proved to be a great idea as these last 2 games have been exciting to watch. PSU has taken the last 8 out of 10 head to head meetings. However, the Panthers have won the last 2 games in Pittsburgh.
Penn State (1-0) had a massive scare in Happy Valley last weekend as they narrowly escaped a huge upset to Appalachian State. PSU ended up winning 45-38 in OT, but it was a nail biter that saw the PSU defense give up tons of yards and points. Will the PSU defense bounce back this weekend at Pitt?
Pittsburgh (1-0) defeated Albany 33-7 last weekend. No offense to the Great Danes, but they’re not nearly as good as Appalachian State. Pitt comes into this matchup with confidence in defeating ranked opponents at home. They tripped up #2 ranked Miami Hurricanes last year at home and also edged out PSU two years ago at home. Can the Panthers pull off another upset?
The spread opened with PSU favored by 9.5 points. It has since come down to an 8.5 point advantage for the Nittany Lions. The Over/Under currently sits at 58 total points.
Against Appalachian State, Trace McSorley led the Nittany Lions in a furious last minute comeback to send the game into OT, where PSU scored on their first drive and intercepted App St. to win the game. McSorley accounted for 3 scores as he threw for 1 and ran in for 2. McSorley finished the game going 21 of 36 for 230 yards with another 53 yards on the ground.
Miles Sanders tallied 117 total yards and 2 touchdowns including the only score in OT. Sanders looked explosive as he’s now the bell cow for the Nittany Lions offense. KJ Hamler appears to be the new #1 receiver for PSU as he caught the game tying TD with just 42 seconds left in the contest.
As for PSU’s defense, there is definite cause for concern as they gave up 451 total yards to Appalachian State, which included almost 300 yards in the air. The Mountaineers also rushed for 159 yards on 37 attempts and were moving the ball at-will on the Nittany Lions in the 4th quarter. PSU led 24-10 going into the final quarter, but ended up allowing 28 points and almost lost the game.
They will need to buckle down and regroup before taking the field against the Panthers on Saturday. Granted, it wasn’t as if Pitt looked like a Top 10 team in the country. They only threw for 169 yards, but totaled 238 yards on the ground. Pitt also turned the ball over twice.
To beat Penn State, Pitt will need to limit the turnovers and throw the ball. With that said, I struggle to see Pitt QB Kenny Pickett being able to break 225 yards this weekend. The Panthers will try to rely on their running game, but it’s going to be a tough matchup when they will need to keep up the scoring pace with that potent PSU offense.
Penn State is 17-5-1 ATS in their last 23 games, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road games, 5-2 ATS as a road favorite over the last 3 years, and 13-8 ATS as a favorite in the last 3 seasons. PSU is also 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games against the ACC and 17-9 ATS in their last 26 games played on a Saturday.
Pittsburgh is 10-14 ATS over the last 3 years, 7-14 ATS in their last 21 home games, 0-2 ATS in their last 2 games against the Big Ten, 2-7 ATS in their last 9 September games, and 1-8 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games. Pitt is also 1-4 SU in their last 5 games as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points.
Look for McSorley to lead this team to another big win over Pitt like last year when the Nittany Lions won 33-14. Trace threw 3 TD passes and rushed for 65 yards in that game. I believe Sanders can duplicate Barkley’s 133 yard total performance from last year as well. The PSU defense will rebound from last weekend’s late-game meltdown, to hold Pitt to 20 points or less. I like Penn State to win by 10 points in this contest, something along the lines of 31 to 20.
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