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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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Big East Football Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Pittsburgh Panthers: Start Time, Spread, Free Pick


Big East Football on Saturday and we will see the Rutgers Scarlet Knights travel to Western, PA to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. The game is scheduled for a 12:00 PM (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live on ESPN 2. Currently the odds for the game have Pittsburgh favored by 1.5 points, while the total sits at 43.5. Check out Sportsbook Spy to find out what side the Public is taking on all today's games.

Free Analysis: Rutgers is leading the Big East right now with a 5-0 mark against league foes. It is the first 5-0 record the Scarlet Knights have had in Big East play in school history. The Scarlet Knights are also a stellar 9-1 overall with the only loss a 35-23 setback at home to Kent State, who has since moved into the national rankings. The Scarlet Knights will take on Louisville next weekend which could decide the Big East championship if both teams stay the course. Lead rusher Jawan Jamison should be back this week for Rutgers. In his absence the Scarlet Knights still leaned heavily on the run game with Savon Huggins filling in and racking up 179 yards on 41 carries in a 10-3 win over Cincinnati. When they're not running the ball the Scarlet Knights will put the ball in the hands of Gary Nova. The Rutgers quarterback has slowed down the stretch and has been especially prone to turning the ball over in recent weeks. Nova has thrown 10 of his 12 interceptions this season in the last four games and has not had more than 200 yards passing in back-to-back weeks. Overall, Nova has thrown for 2,125 yards and 19 touchdowns, while completing 61.1 percent of his pass attempts. It really hasn't mattered what Rutgers has done on offense because of how good the defense has been. The Scarlet Knights haven't just been the top team in the Big East in total defense (312.6 ypg) but also rank 14th nationally in the category, while also stifling opposing offenses to the fourth-lowest point total (12.4 ppg). That puts Rutgers in the same rarified air as such ballyhooed defensive squads as Alabama and Notre Dame.

Pittsburgh is playing for its postseason life in this matchup. The Panthers have lost two straight games and are now just 4-6 overall and in need of wins in each of its final two games to get the sixth win that would make the team bowl eligible. In terms of conference play, Pittsburgh has not had a great deal of success with just one win in five tries this season. Overall Pittsburgh is squarely in the middle of the Big East in both scoring (27.5 ppg) and total offense (411.3 ypg). The Panthers are also one of four teams in the Big East picking up more than 400 yards of total offense per game. Traditionally a school that runs the ball a great deal, Pittsburgh has been more of a passing team this season. The Panthers are averaging 271.8 yards per game through the air which is the third best mark in the conference. Senior quarterback Tino Sunseri has been the steady hand that has kept the Panthers humming. Sunseri has completed an impressive 67.3 percent of his pass attempts for 2,665 yards and 16 touchdowns. Lining up with Sunseri in the backfield is talented, though less productive than expected, Ray Graham. The running back has amassed a team-best 1,125 total yards from scrimmage this season. Graham gets it done on the ground (835 yards, 8 TDs) primarily, but has also been a weapon in the passing game (31 receptions, 290 yards, 2 TDs). Like the offense, the Panthers' defense is right in the middle of the pack, ranking fourth in both scoring (22.7 ppg) and total defense (358.6 ypg) but the conference's second best turnover margin (+8) has kept Pittsburgh competitive. 

Free Pick: Im going with the under in this one. This is a huge game for Rutgers as they look to wrap up the Big East and I really don't see them changing their game plan and take too many chances here. Rutgers uses a strong ground game and and even stronger defense to win their games and I expect them to use that same game plan here. Pittsburgh has been good on offense, but they won't put up big numbers on this defense. The Pitt Defense has not been that bad this year as they have allowed just 22.7 ppg on the year. Look for the mid 30's in this one. 


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