This Thursday the Pittsburgh Panthers (3-3, 3-3 ATS) will host the Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2, 3-3 ATS) in a crucial ACC Coastal matchup. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 EST at Heinz Field and will be televised nationally on ESPN. Oddsmakers currently have Virginia Tech listed as a 1-point favorite after originally opening the Hokies as 2.5-point favorite.
Last year Pittsburgh lost 9-19 at Virginia Tech as a 7-point underdog, snapping the Panthers 4-game winning streak in the series. Pittsburgh did win the last meeting at Heinz Field 35-17 as a 10-point underdog, which was the 3rd straight time that they won outright at home as an underdog.
Early Lean on Pittsburgh +1
For whatever reason the Panthers just don’t get any respect against the Hokies. Not only has Pittsburgh dominated the series they have owned Virginia Tech at home. It’s no secret that the home team has an edge in these weekday night games and I just haven’t been all that impressed with the Hokies of late. I feel like this team is getting too much respect for their win at Ohio State. The Buckeyes were still adapting to life without star quarterback Braxton Miller. It’s been a bit of a common theme of late, as the Hokies are just 6-15 ATS in their last 21 games when listed as a favorite.
Virginia Tech’s defense gets a lot of respect, but Pittsburgh has been equally impressive on that side of the ball this year. In fact, the Panthers come in ranked 4th in the country in total defense, giving up just 277.5 ypg, where the Hokies are 21st at 325.1 ypg.
Panthers are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 home games against a team with a winning road record and 22-7-1 ATS in their last 30 games following a loss.
In a game that figures to be dominated by both defenses, this one is going to come down to turnovers and which team can make the big plays on offense. I give the edge to Pittsburgh in both of these areas. The Hokies have turned it over 13 times in 6 games, largely due to the poor decision making of quarterback Michael Brewer who has 11 interceptions. As for the difference maker on offense, I believe Pittsburgh running back James Conner is just that. Conner is 5th in the country in rushing with 874 yards and should be in prime form off two full weeks of rest.
You also have to like the fact that Pittsburgh has gone 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games off a bye, while Virginia Tech is just 1-5 ATS in their last 6 off an extra week of preparation. Adding to this is the fact that the Panthers are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 home games against a team with a winning road record and 22-7-1 ATS in their last 30 games following a loss.