Week 8 – Pitt at Buffalo

Posted Oct 19, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Game Analysis – Pitt at Buffalo

Pitt (2-4) at Buffalo (1-5) Oct. 20, 3:30, Big East Network

Here's The Deal: Pitt is getting a much-needed break in Big East action that couldn't have come at a better time. The erratic Panthers opened the season with two ugly losses, battled back with consecutive wins, but have dropped their last two games to league foes Syracuse and Louisville. They fought hard against the unbeaten Cardinals on Saturday, even leading at halftime, but got torched in the second half. If Pitt has any hope of winning the six games necessary to bowl in December, it better leave UB Stadium with a victory this weekend. Buffalo is in the midst of a four-game losing streak that hit a low-point in DeKalb last Saturday. After putting forth respectable showings against Connecticut and Ohio, the Bulls got waxed by Northern Illinois, 45-3, to fall to 1-5.

Why Pitt Might Win: The Panthers should have few problems moving the ball on a Buffalo defense that ranks 102nd nationally in points allowed, and just got done being roughed up by Northern Illinois. Pitt has had success with the ball over the last month, scoring at least 35 points three times. With help from budding rookie Rushel Shell, Ray Graham ought to be able to get himself and the ground game back on track. QB Tino Sunseri has been a reliable game manager all season, pitching steadily in the direction of receivers Devin Street and Mike Shanahan.

Why Buffalo Might Win: The Panthers could have problems with the pass rush of the Bulls, which ranks an impressive 14th nationally in sacks. For the second straight year, Pitt is getting whipped at the line of scrimmage. A week ago, it yielded five sacks to a Louisville defense that had been struggling all season to mount any pressure. Buffalo has been bringing the heat from a multitude of different angles and directions, but the ringleaders have been LB Khalil Mack and DE Colby Way. Mack, in particular, is an SEC or ACC-caliber player out of Florida, who has dominated lesser competition the last three years.

What To Watch Out For: Is this the week that star Bulls back Branden Oliver finally returns from a leg injury that's kept him out of the last three games? Head coach Dan Quinn remains hopeful. Rookie Devin Campbell did go for 160 yards and a score in the close call with unbeaten Ohio two weeks ago, but Buffalo is a completely different team when Oliver is on the field. The Bulls need someone who can soften a Pittsburgh defense that's had pockets of problems versus the run this fall.

What Will Happen: This game will say a lot about the Pittsburgh staff's ability to motivate a struggling team. Are the players craving a win against a lesser opponent, or did last week's Louisville loss take too much out of these guys? The Panthers should survive on the strength of their running game and the front line of a defense led by Aaron Donald. While Pitt has Sunseri to balance things out, Buffalo sports a limp passing attack that's produced just five touchdown passes in five games with FBS opponents.

CFN Prediction: Pittsburgh 34 … Buffalo 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Pittsburgh -11 O/U: 54.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 1.5