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2011 BBVA Compass Bowl: Wildcats vs. Panthers Predictions

BBVA Compass Bowl – Kentucky Wildcats vs Pittsburgh Panthers

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Kentucky at Pitt Gambling Matchup

Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 8   12 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Legion Field, Birmingham, AL.
Broadcast: ESPN
Wildcats vs. Panthers Lines by betED.com
Pointspread: Panthers -3 ½
Over/Under: 52

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The Kentucky Wildcats, out of the SEC head over to Birmingham to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers from the Big East in the BBVA Compass Bowl this upcoming Saturday afternoon. Kickoff from Legion Filed is set for 12 p.m. and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Kentucky has to be happy it is even playing in a postseason bowl after dropping three out of its last five games to finish the regular season. The Wildcats’ 38-20 win over Vanderbilt on Nov. 13 as a 17-point home favorite secured the sixth win that was necessary to become bowl eligible. They finished the season at 6-6 both straight-up and against the spread and went 2-6 SU in conference play. A 31-28 upset over then-No. 10 South Carolina as a 5 ½-point home underdog was the highlight of the season and their only other SEC win.

The Wildcats come into this contest with a defense that gave up an average of 28.5 points per game, but an offense that compensated for this by putting up and average of 33 points a game. They got it done with a quality quarterback in Mike Hartline, a bruising runner in Derrick Locke and a versatile all-purpose player in Randall Cobb. Hartline threw for 3,178 yards and 23 touchdowns, while Locke led the team with 816 rushing yards on 154 carries. Cobb added another 401 yards on the ground and led the team in receptions with 79 for 959 yards.

Unfortunately for Wildcat fans, Hartline is out for this game after getting suspended for public intoxication charges. He will be replaced by Morgan Newton, who started the last eight games of the 2009 season after Hartline was injured. NFL Betting

Controversy and confusion at the head coach spot follows Pittsburgh into this game. Former head coach Dave Wannstedt will still be at the helm for this one. His replacement, Michael Haywood was charged with a felony domestic battery two weeks after he was hired and subsequently fired. The whole year has been a disappointment for the Panthers after finishing 7-5 SU overall (6-4-2 ATS) and going 5-2 SU in the Big East. They earned a share of the conference title, but a 30-28 loss to Connecticut as a six-point road favorite ended up sending the Huskies to the BCS Fiesta Bowl.

Pittsburgh, for the most part, played solid defense this season and gave up an average of just 19.8 points per game. It did however give up an average of 29.2 points in its five losses. Offensively, the Panthers only managed to score 26.3 points per game and struggled to consistently put points on the board. They could only generate three points in a loss to Miami and 10 points in a loss to their bitter rival West Virginia.

One of the best players on offense proved to be WR Jon Baldwin, who led the team with 810 receiving yards on just 52 catches. RB Dion Lewis was another bright spot with 956 rushing yards on 197 carries. He also led the team with 12 touchdowns.

Trends: Kentucky is 0-4 ATS in its last four games on the road and 3-6 ATS in its last nine games overall. The total has gone ‘over’ in eight of its last 10 games.
Pittsburgh is 3-2 ATS in its last five road games and 5-2 ATS in its last seven games overall. The total has gone ‘over’ in four of the last seven games.

The Wildcats may have only won two games in the SEC this season but they took both No. 1 Auburn and No. 21 Mississippi State into the fourth quarter and remained competitive in several other tough losses. You also have to question Pitts’ general state of mind with the unsettled situation at head coach. Stick with Kentucky in this one as it rallies for an outright win.

The Pick: Kentucky +3 ½

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David Schwab is a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog. While not cheering for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles David can be found working on his blog. David wants to hear from you so please comment below.

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About Dave Schwab

David Schwab is a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog. While not cheering for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles David can be found working on his blog at www.eaglesinc.com. David wants to hear from you so please comment below.


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