Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#123 Western Michigan (WMU) vs.
#124 Pittsburgh
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 12:00pm EDT
Written by Chris Kubala

There's a non-conference matchup on the gridiron when the MAC travels to the Steel City to face the ACC. The Western Michigan Broncos are on the road as they make the trip to face the Pitt Panthers Saturday afternoon. Western Michigan comes in off a 28-0 blanking of Illinois State at home in their most recent contest last Saturday. Pitt earned a 41-34 road victory over Tennessee in a battle of Power Five schools last Saturday in their most recent contest. This marks the first time that the two programs will meet on the gridiron as FBS opponents.

Western Michigan Broncos Looking for Upset on the Road

Western Michigan bounced back from being dominated by Michigan on the road as they took care of business against Illinois State at home last week. The Broncos now try to upend a Power Five program as they head to the Steel City for this contest. Against the Redbirds, Western Michigan completely muted the Illinois State offense as they rolled up a 407-57 edge in total offense. The Broncos piled up 24 first downs while allowing four and controlled the clock by a 37:08 to 22:52 margin. That helped Western Michigan overcome turning the ball over twice while forcing just one takeaway in the contest.

On the season, the Broncos are 99th in the nation in passing offense by averaging 182.5 yards per contest while they are 53rd in rushing offense with an average of 179.5 yards per game this season. Western Michigan is 107th in the FBS in scoring offense as they put up 21 points per game while they are 77th in scoring defense by allowing 23.5 points per contest. Kaleb Eleby has hit 35 of 58 passes for 365 yards with two touchdowns against no interceptions while adding 18 yards on the ground. Mareyohn Hrabowski misfired on his lone pass attempt on the year. La’Darius Jefferson (28 carries, 144 yards, three TD) and Sean Tyler (25 carries, 133 yards, TD) are sharing a near 50-50 split in carries on the ground this season. In the passing game, Jaylen Hall (10 receptions, team-high 121 yards, TD), Corey Crooms (nine receptions, 114 yards, TD) and Bryce Nunnelly (seven grabs, 52 yards) are the top targets. Peter Sampson has hit all six extra point attempts while misfiring on his lone field goal attempt on the season, which came from 40 yards, as it was blocked.

Western Michigan is going to have to find a way to pound the ball on the ground though they could find some tough sledding in that department. Pitt allows only 89 yards per contest on the ground and three yards per carry so far this season. If the Broncos are unable to generate some production on the ground, it could make for a long afternoon and force Eleby into throwing the ball far more often than he may like.

Pitt Panthers Seeking 3-0 Start

Pitt was in a wild contest on the road as they downed Tennessee in their most recent contest to improve to 2-0 on the year. The Panthers now try to maintain their momentum and run their record to 3-0 on the season. Against Tennessee, Pitt trailed 10-0 after the opening quarter only to score 27 second-quarter points. They scored the go-ahead touchdown with 19 seconds to play in the first half to lead 27-20 and never let Tennessee get even again. Pitt held a 397-374 edge in total offense, picked up 24 first downs while allowing 20 and owned a 35:50 to 24:10 edge in time of possession. For good measure, the Panthers forced the game’s lone turnover.

This season, the Panthers are 14th in the nation in passing offense with an average of 338 yards per game while they are 71st in rushing offense with 159.5 yards per contest. Pitt is 13th in the FBS in scoring offense with an average of 46 points per game while they are 56th in scoring defense by giving up 20.5 points a contest. Kenny Pickett is 51 of 73 passing for 557 yards with four touchdowns against no picks while adding 58 yards and a score on the ground. Nick Patti is five of five for 58 yards while Davis Beville (four of five, 45 yards) and Jared Wayne (one of one, 16 yards, TD) have thrown the ball as well. Israel Abanikanda leads the team on the ground with 19 carries for 73 yards plus a score while Vincent Davis (25 carries, 65 yards, two TD) is in the mix as well. Jordan Addison leads the team with 11 receptions for 104 yards plus two scores. Wayne (nine catches, 111 yards), Taysir Mack (seven receptions, team-high 134 yards) and Lucas Krull (eight grabs, 91 yards, two TD) are solid options in the passing game as well. Sam Scarton is nine of 10 on extra points and three of three on field goals with a long of 38. Ben Sauls has connected on both extra points but missed his lone field goal attempt, which came from beyond 50 yards.

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While Western Michigan comes in off a win last week, the fact remains that it came against an FCS program that went just 1-3 in the spring season. The Broncos are going to face a much tougher foe in this one as they have to go on the road against a Power Five program. Pitt has racked up 92 points in their first two games and they haven’t been slowed down in those outings. The Broncos don’t have the firepower offensively or the weapons on the defensive side of the ball to slow the Panthers enough. Pickett has another big game with his receivers running free to deliver a win for the Panthers, who go to 3-0 on the year.

Prediction: Pitt Panthers -15

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Western Michigan showed their struggles defensively against Michigan in the opener as they were lit up for 47 points and 335 yards on the ground. While Pitt doesn’t do their damage on the ground, we’ve seen them put up 51 and 41 points in their first two games of the season. The Panthers have gone over the mark in both their games this season and, dating back to last year, the over has hit in nine of their last 10 contests with their lone under in that stretch coming by just two points. Western Michigan has seen the over go 4-0 in their last four against ACC foes. You know that the Broncos are going to give up points here: look for them to score just enough to slide this one over the mark.

Prediction: Over 57.5
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

Chris Kubala has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well. as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.