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With Week 0 having come and gone, it’s time to get started with the first “official” week of the College Football season. One of the first matchups, West Virginia, vs Pittsburgh, includes two recently transferred and highly-regarded quarterbacks.
How will the Kenny Pickett-less Panthers do in this one? Let’s find out.
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While Kenny Pickett has left Pittsburgh and gone onto the NFL, they’ll have a new quarterback in town who was once regarded as a top future draft choice in Kedon Slovis.
Slovis transferred this offseason from USC following Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley coming over from Oklahoma. Interestingly, top Pittsburgh receiver Jordan Addison also left to head to USC.
On the other side, West Virginia will also have a quarterback who transferred in, former Georgia Bulldog and USC Trojan J.T. Daniels.
In fact, Daniel and Slovis were teammates at USC before Daniels transferred to Georgia.
On the field, Daniels will finally get to show his once former five-star recruit self.
It’ll be a fascinating matchup in the trenches between the Mountaineer’s offensive line and the Panther’s front seven.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mountaineers center, Zach Frazier ranks inside the top 25 at the position, and the rest of the offensive line is around average.
The Panthers defensive line is led by Calijah Kancey, a fantastic pass rusher.
Their secondary is OK, too, but they’ll be able to get by against this West Virginia. However, there’s one caveat: Mountaineers sophomore Kaden Prather.
Standing 6’4” and over 210 pounds, Prather did fairly well as a freshman in a limited sample size. He could be viewed as a dark horse for a top option for Daniels on the outside. He’ll have a beatable matchup against Panthers cornerbacks M.J. Devonshire and A.J. Woods.
Passing the ball, Slovis and Daniels should be fairly on par. Still, Slovis will face a harder cornerback unit with the Mountaineers sporting Charles Woods, one of the country’s best cornerbacks. From Week 9 on last year, Woods allowed just eight yards with one interception in their bowl game against Minnesota.
One option for Slovis and Pittsburgh could be to rely on Israel Abanikanda to control the pace of the game. In 2021, Abanikanda averaged over five yards per carry on 123 carries and had seven touchdowns. He’s a larger back at 5’11” and 215 pounds.
These two quarterbacks are college football veterans, but there’s still something to be said about playing in your first real game with a new team and getting acclimated to the situation.
The goal for Pittsburgh here should be to get Abanikanda working early to establish the pace of the game and control the clock.
Suppose the Mountaineers can keep pace despite this potential disparity. Slovis has the harder matchup throwing the ball in that case, while the Mountaineers have a more balanced opposition.
There aren’t any stud receivers or running backs at West Virginia heading into the season, but again, the Daniels and Prather connection is something to look for.
All this, combined with it being the first game of the season and on a new team for these quarterbacks, we could see a closer final score.
Take the Mountaineers +7.5 (-110)
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After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.More info on Richard Janvrin
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