Pittsburgh vs Northwestern Pinstripe Bowl Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info
When: Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2 PM ET
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York
Opening NCAA Football Lines: Pittsburgh -5.5 (65)
Why Bet on Pittsburgh?Pitt is one of the most underappreciated teams this season. Despite playing in the ACC, Pitt's schedule ranks as the 32nd-most difficult, as the Panthers played a tough nonconference schedule, facing Penn State and Oklahoma State in Weeks 2 and 3. Of their four losses, three were by one score, and all were to very good teams — and they do have that win at Clemson.
The Panthers had one of the most potent offenses in the country this year, finishing the regular season ranked No. 11 nationally with 42.3 points per game. The problem has been that the Panthers have also been allowing 35.6 points per game, which ranked No. 109 nationally. A win in this game would give the Panthers nine on the season, which would be the most the Panthers have had in any years since finishing 10-3 in 2009. New LSU coordinator Matt Canada is staying on through the bowl to run a James Connor-led Pitt attack that averaged more than 58 points per game over the season’s final three games.
Quadree Henderson was named an All-American. Henderson is the first All-America return man in Pitt history. He has four returns for touchdowns this season, including a nation-leading three on kickoffs. Henderson ranks second in the country in combined kick return yards (1,121) and fifth in kickoff return average (31.1). Henderson is also among the country's most productive all-purpose players, ranking 11th with an average of 159.75 per game. He has compiled 1,917 all-purpose yards, the fifth highest total in Pitt history.
This will be the seventh all-time meeting between Pitt and Northwestern, but the first in a postseason game. The schools last played during the 1973 season, a 21-14 Pitt victory in Evanston. The overall series is tied at three wins apiece. Pitt has played twice before at Yankee Stadium. The Panthers went 1-1 in those games, defeating Army (7-6) on Nov. 17, 1962, while losing to Syracuse (3-0) on Oct. 20, 1923.
Why Bet on Northwestern?The Wildcats were in danger of missing a bowl game altogether before beating Illinois in the final game of the regular season to get to 6-6. Things could have been far worse, however, because the Wildcats did begin the season with a 1-3 record, including two losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State to open the year.
The Wildcats offense was led by senior wide receiver Austin Carr, a Billetnikoff Award finalist and 2016 All-Big Ten First Team honoree, who ended the regular season ranked first in the conference in receptions (84), receiving yards (1,196), and receiving touchdowns (12).
First Team All-Big Ten running back Justin Jackson led the conference in rushing (1,300 yards) at the end of regular season play and paced the Wildcats with 12 rushing touchdowns. First Team All-Big Ten defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo helped lead the defense, tying for the Conference lead with 10 sacks. Another top player on that defense is linebacker Anthony Walker, who finished with 98 tackles, including 10 for a loss, two sacks and an interception. Sophomore defensive back Montre Hartage picked off five passes.
Pat Fitzgerald is 1-9 in bowls as a player or coach at Northwestern, but the poor record is due more to strength of opposition. In his six bowl turns as a head coach, Fitzgerald has been an underdog every time, with Texas Tech the lone non-SEC school in the opposing lineup. He’s won just once, but had covered four of five and nearly the fifth prior to last year’s drubbing at the hands of Tennessee.
Pittsburgh vs Northwestern Pinstripe Bowl Expert Pick: Pittsburgh PanthersPanthers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in December.
Under is 20-7 in Wildcats last 27 non-conference games.
Take Pitt and the under on NCAA Football odds.