Week 4 - Gardner-Webb at Pitt

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Gardner-Webb at Pitt

Gardner-Webb (0-3) at Pittsburgh (1-2) Sept. 22, 3:30, ESPN3

Here's The Deal: Commence removing the dirt from Pittsburgh. The Panthers aren't dead yet. With one foot in the ground and turmoil mounting, the program rose up in unexpected fashion to shock No. 13 Virginia Tech at Heinz Field. And it wasn't even close. The Panthers and first-year head coach Paul Chryst still have issues, but no longer have a monkey on their backs. Gardner-Webb should provide the platform for Pitt to return to the .500 mark. The Runnin' Bulldogs have lost their first three meetings versus FCS opponents, failing to come any closer than three touchdowns in any one game.

Why Gardner-Webb Might Win: Pitt has already lost to one FCS program, Youngstown State, this month, so the concept is hardly inconceivable. When the Panthers were flubbing the first two games, their run defense was getting hammered for big yards. The Runnin' Bulldogs, true to their moniker, will need to unleash backs Kenny Little and Juanne Blount on a team that could be looking ahead to next week's trip to Syracuse.

Why Pittsburgh Might Win: The Runnin' Bulldogs are yielding an average of 40 points a game against lower division competition. A rejuvenated Panthers offense should have few problems hitting that number on Saturday afternoon. QB Tino Sunseri is coming off one of the sharpest games of his college career, and Pitt now has a pair of backs who look capable of carrying the load. Ray Graham remains the centerpiece of the offense, but blue-chip recruit Rushel Shell is primed for an expanded role after gutting the Hokies for 157 yards on 23 carries.

What To Watch Out For: Pitt will look to build on last week's defensive effort, which was transcendent for the coaching staff. They constantly pressured QB Logan Thomas, picked off three of his throws and came up big in short yardage. Hard-hitting junior LB Shane Gordon is becoming one of the unit leaders, an emotional defender who plays bigger than his size.

What Will Happen: Having tasted despair already in 2012, Pitt isn't about to take anyone lightly. The Panthers will build on their improbable Week 3 triumph, easily shutting down the Gardner-Webb running game, while piling up their own big numbers on the ground with Graham and Shell.

CFN Prediction: Pittsburgh 51 … Gardner-Webb 7
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) NL O/U: NL
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 1