SMU Mustangs vs. Pittsburgh Panthers BBVA Compass Bowl Picks: The SMU Mustangs of Conference-USA will play the Pittsburg Panthers of the Big East Conference today (1 pm ET) in the BBVA Compass Bowl at famed Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. SMU finished the 2011 regular season 7-5, winning at least seven games for the third straight season. Pittsburgh (6-6, 4-3 BIG EAST) was coached by Todd Graham during the year but will be coached by interim Keith Patterson. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Odds makers at sports book BetOnline.com list the Panthers as 3 1/2-chalk College Football Odds favorites in the game with a combined score total(over/under) of 46 points. Mustangs’ backers are getting +155 odds on the BetOnline moneyline while the price of a SU wager on Pitt is -175.
Both schools head into the game without their top running backs; SMU’s Zach Line and Pittsburgh’s Ray Graham, whose 939 rushing yards accounted for 85 percent of Pitt’s rushing yardage after seven games. Without the services of both of these talented ball carriers, both teams have had to rely more on the play of their quarterbacks. Pitt’s Tino Sunseri and J.J. McDermott at SMU. McDermott has been the beneficiary of Coach June Jones’ pass-happy offense this season, his first as a starter. The New Mexico State on transfer has completed 256 of his 430 pass attempts for 3,182 yards.
SMU has a veteran offensive line in front of McDermott. SMU’s offensive line, the most experienced in all of college football with 218 combined starts, will be put to the test against an explosive Pitt pass rush. The Mustangs yield only 2.25 sacks per contest, while the Panthers average 3.3 sacks a game. SMU’s heralded left tackle Kelvin Beachum will have his hands full with Aaron Donald and Brandon Lindsey. Donald has 10 sacks on the season, while Lindsey has 8.5 sacks this year. With a sack against the Mustangs, Lindsey would tally 23.5 sacks for his career and tie Bryan Knight for sixth on Pitt’s all-time list.
BBVA Compass Bowl Prediction: I look for SMU to control the line of scrimmage on offense and cover getting +3 1/2 points. My Pick – SMU +3 1/2.
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