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Head-to-Head College Football Win Totals: Pitt Favored by Just Half a Game Over West Virginia

A Pitt Panthers fan donning his team's gear
The Pitt Panthers have been matched up with Backyard Brawl rivals West Virginia in a head-to-head win total bet for the 2019 season. Photo by The Cleveland Kid (flickr) [CC License].
  • The Backyard Brawl has a new forum with WVU and Pitt matched up in a H2H win total prop bet at BetOnline
  • Both programs have won exactly seven or eight games in at least four of the last seven seasons
  • Both have tough roads ahead, West Virginia due to defections and Pitt due to schedule

BetOnline’s latest 2019 college football props are head-to-head team win totals. Most of the matchups pit conference or in-state rivals against each other, asking bettors to pick which team will win more games (often with a handicap).

One that stands out is Pitt vs West Virginia, which has the Panthers favored by just half a game.

Pitt vs West Virginia Head-to-Head Win Total Odds

College Football Head-to-Head Win Totals: Pitt vs. West Virginia Odds at BetOnline (as of July 23)
Pitt -0.5 -130
West Virginia +0.5 +110

July is supposed to be the time for optimism, when everyone is undefeated and the conversation revolves around the players who could break out, not the players that could disappoint.

West Virginia coach Neal Brown was an exception when he said at Big 12 Media Days, “We’re going to be a young football team, and I think our fan base understands that and there’s going to be some patience.”

Brown’s hiring at WVU was a far better outcome for him than the Kansas and Louisville jobs he was linked to previously. His track record says he will have a successful offense in Morgantown and ultimately be successful in the Big 12. But based on his own words, he clearly has no expectation for doing so immediately.

Now compare that outlook to Pitt, which has high hopes for a new-look offense, one that’s supported by a solid secondary and some returners on the defensive line. West Virginia is rebuilding, Pitt is not, yet the Mountaineers are supposed to be within a win of the Panthers? I don’t buy it.

Country Woes

The truth is Dana Holgorsen had several reasons to leave Morgantown for Houston: his relationship with the school deteriorated after a couple of flirtations with firing him, and 10 of his 11 seasons as an assistant coach came in the Lone Star State. But another very good reason to get out now was the downward trend of the 2019 roster, one that was likely to get him fired if he coached it.

The offensive line is expected to be inexperienced at worst and optimistic patchwork at best. The Mountaineers don’t know who that shaky line will be protecting at quarterback yet, with two transfers battling for the job, but in any event that signal caller won’t have much in proven pass catchers to target.

A couple of Alabama transfers — wide receiver T.J. Simmons and defensive back VanDarius Cowan — couple help immediately, but it’s easy to say that could be more of starting pieces than finishing touches.

That bleak outlook comes with poor timing as both Missouri and NC State are on the non-conference slate, the Missouri game on the road. There is still Kansas in the Big 12 schedule, but it’s easy to see these Mountaineers dropping one of those non-conference games, and only collecting two, maybe three Big 12 wins for a 4-8 or 5-7 season.

Pitt only has to be one win better than that to beat the line, and even with a tough schedule, there’s a fair window of opportunity there.

Hail to Pitt

September is, admittedly, cruel: Virginia to start the season before a non-conference schedule that includes going to Penn State and hosting UCF. Coming out of September 2-3 is a very realistic possibility, but so is going 4-0 in November with games against Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Boston College. There’s also the game at Duke to start October that could get the Panthers up to seven wins, if all goes well.

The optimistic outlook on the Panthers is based on new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, whose record of excellent passing attacks comes right as the run-first Panthers have to find an answer at running back. A struggling defense found something late in 2018 and should be able to support an offense working through the kinks, especially while doing so in a September schedule that isn’t all that conducive to stacking wins in the first place.

The optimistic outlook on the Panthers is based on new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, whose record of excellent passing attacks comes right as the run-first Panthers have to find an answer at running back.

Assuming the worst out of Pitt — a 2-3 September, a winless October and a 3-1 November — still puts the Panthers at 5-7 when the Mountaineers could easily end up 4-8. I still see a realistic floor for Pitt as 6-6 and a realistic ceiling for West Virginia at 5-7, which is still good enough for the Panthers to beat the line. Of the three head-to-head lines I’ve looked at so far (the others being Mississippi State-Ole Miss and Louisville-Kentucky), this is the one I like most.


SBD’s NCAAF Head-to-Head Win Totals Coverage

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