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Pittsburgh, PA - After its best offensive showing in two years, Pittsburgh has its highest position in the AP Poll since 1989 and is on the verge of its longest winning streak in 25 years.
The 17th-ranked Panthers aim to build on that performance and secure a sixth straight victory when they host Rutgers in a Big East matchup on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Pittsburgh -8 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on Pittsburgh -8 (View College Football bet percentages).
Pitt (5-1, 2-0) is off to its best start since opening 6-1 in 2006, thanks in part to gaining 380.7 yards and averaging 27.8 points per game.
The Panthers put on an offensive display last Saturday, amassing season highs in yards (499) and points in a 42-21 rout at Navy - a victory that helped them ascend to No. 17 in the rankings for the first time since 1989.
Bill Stull went 15-for-23 for 255 yards and a touchdown, while LeSean McCoy had 18 carries for a season-best 156 yards and a career high-tying three TDs to help Pitt to its best offensive game since compiling 506 yards in a 51-6 win over The Citadel on Sept. 23, 2006.
"We just wanted to come out and just pound the ball, inside, outside," said McCoy, who also had a pair of catches for 46 yards.
Pittsburgh is looking for its first six-game run since Oct. 8-Nov. 12, 1983 behind McCoy, who notched his third straight 100-yard performance and the 10th of his brief career last weekend. He has a chance to surpass his totals from last season, when he set a Big East freshman rushing record with 1,328 yards.
McCoy ranks second in the conference and 13th in the nation with 114.8 yards per game, and looks to take advantage of a Rutgers run defense that's allowing 150.9 - the second-worst average in the Big East.
While Pittsburgh has thrived offensively, it has also been successful on the opposite side of the ball, allowing 287.0 yards per game to rank second in the Big East and 20th among Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
The Panthers held Navy to 251 yards, including a season-low 57 passing.
"Offensively when you hold the ball for 20 minutes and they only have it for 10 at halftime, you're doing some good things," coach Dave Wannstedt said.
Wannstedt's team resumes conference play this week, looking to win its first three Big East games for the first time since opening 4-0 in 2003. But to inch closer to that mark, Pittsburgh must end its recent struggles versus Rutgers (2-5, 1-2).
Though the Panthers lead the all-time series 19-6 and won eight of nine matchups from 1996-2004, they've suffered three straight defeats, including 20-16 at Rutgers last Nov. 17.
"We have our work cut out for us this week," Wannstedt said. "We've got a good week of preparation. We have to stay focused and come up with some good plans on offense, defense and special teams. We'll approach this one with the same intensity and focus that we've done the last three or four games."
The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 12-10 win - their first over an FBS opponent this season - over Connecticut last Saturday as quarterback Mike Teel went 17-for-30 for 192 yards to overtake second place on the school's all-time yards list (7,327).
Kenny Britt had nine catches for 107 yards - his ninth career 100-yard game - and Kordell Young ran 28 times for 80 yards and a TD, but Rutgers also turned in an impressive defensive effort by holding FBS leading rusher Donald Brown to 106 yards.
The Scarlet Knights will be facing their first ranked opponent of the season. They went 1-3 versus Top 25 teams in 2007.
"Our kids come every week and are trying harder and harder," coach Greg Schiano said. "It's a one game season and we're 1-0 after (last Saturday) and that's good. Now we have another one game season."
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
RUTGERS is 9-7 against the spread versus PITTSBURGH since 1992
PITTSBURGH is 10-6 straight up against RUTGERS since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
PITTSBURGH is 1-1 against the spread versus RUTGERS over the last 3 seasons
RUTGERS is 2-0 straight up against PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at PITTSBURGH since 1992
RUTGERS is 4-3 against the spread versus PITTSBURGH since 1992
PITTSBURGH is 5-2 straight up against RUTGERS since 1992
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons.
RUTGERS is 1-0 against the spread versus PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
RUTGERS is 1-0 straight up against PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[DE] Gary Watts is out for the season. - Knee - 09/12/08
[QB] Jabu Lovelace is out indefinitely - Leg - 09/25/08
[RB] Kordell Young missed last 4 games, "?". - Knee - 10/06/08
No significant injuries.
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Posted: 10/21/08 3:42 PM