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By Colin Dunlap | 9:26 a.m. Monday
QUESTION: I noticed that in Las Vegas, the opening lines have Pitt anywhere from a 1 to a 2 point favorite in the Backyard Brawl. Am I the only one who expected the No. 9 Panthers to be giving more points? I thought they would be like a 5 point favorite.
Jimmy C; Wheeling, W.Va.
DUNLAP: As a guy who likes to spend a little time in Vegas myself -- I prefer the Paris sportsbook (there is free booze if you sit in the horse portion of the room) -- at first glance, I expected the Panthers to be a bigger favorite myself. But, in looking at everything, I can understand the line. Many times, teams are given anywhere between 2 and 3 points for playing at home -- and with a place such as Mountaineer Field, a tough place for visiting teams to play, Vegas obviously leaned toward the higher side. Then, with rivalry games (and we can all agree this is one of the best rivalries on college football) the people who set the lines tend to keep it tighter than with non-rivalry games, because there are all those cliches about throwing the records out, and anything can happen, etc.
So, with all that said, I can see how the line opened up in the area of Pitt giving just 1.5 points in this one.
But, I would almost bet (pun intended) that as the week progresses, and a lot of people out there look at the No. 9 team in the country and lay some money on them as they are giving only this many points, that the line will shift throughout the week and, when the ball is kicked off, that line will probably be around a field goal.
Also, as a clarification, I never have -- and never will -- bet on the sports I cover. I've been known, in Las Vegas, to bet on English Premier League soccer to avoid any conflict of interest....COME ON YOU REDS!!!!!