North Carolina vs Pittsburgh NCAA Football Odds Preview

Posted by Alex Murphy on October 28, 2015 in

The North Carolina Tar Heels might be unranked, but they’re also favored to beat the 24th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers despite being on the road in their Week 9 ACC showdown. With both teams owning identical SU and ATS marks, let’s find out if the Tar Heels can take down their nationally-raked rivals and cover the college football spread as road favorites.

Taking a Closer Look at the Tar Heels vs Panthers NCAA Football Odds, TV & Game Info

When: Thursday, October 29, 7:00 PM ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
NCAAF Odds: North Carolina -3

Why Bet on the North Carolina Tar Heels (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS)

North Carolina has won six straight games since dropping their regular season opener mostly because they have an elite defense. The Heels recorded a convincing 28-13 win over Virginia in Week 8, although they failed to cover the spread as a 16.5-point home favorite. Running back Elijah Hood rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries scored on a pair of three-yard touchdown runs for North Carolina while gifted quarterback Marquise Williams put his full arsenal on display by completing 21-of-26 passes for 226 yards while rushing 12 times for an additional 71 yards.

Kicker Nick Weiler made a pair of field goals and North Carolina’s defense picked off Virginia quarterback Matt Johns four times in the second half while keeping the Cavaliers off the scoreboard. The Tar Heels are ranked a stellar 17th in scoring (38.4 ppg) and an equally impressive 16th in points allowed (16.7 ppg).

Why Bet on the Pittsburgh Panthers (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS)

Pittsburgh has won ‘ugly’ in bagging each of their last two games by an identical three points, including their 23-20 win over Syracuse in Week 8, even though they failed to cover the spread as a 9.5-point home fave. The Panthers got the ‘W’ on the strength of the game’s biggest play – a fake punt that fooled a Syracuse team that has successfully pulled off multiple fake punts of their own this season. During the week of practice leading up to Saturday’s game. Pittsburgh had to put in extra time on special teams to deal with Syracuse punter Riley Dixon, a player that has rushed for three first downs this season and thrown a touchdown pass last season.

Ironically, it was Pittsburgh punter Ryan Winslow that made the play of the game when he hit linebacker Matt Galambos for a big first down pass that went to the Syracuse 40-yard-line. The Panthers would eventually advance the ball to the six-yard-line before kicker Chris Blewitt nailed a 25-yard game-winning field goal on the last play of the game.

“We were on the sideline and (Narduzzi) called the signal and we went out there and told the guys on offense that were still out there that we were going to run it, and it was go time,” Winslow said. “I was excited, because it was a pivotal play.” “The whole deal was really get the first down there,” Galambos said. “If I was covered up, try to go deeper. I had all of the confidence in the world that someone was going to get open and we were going to get a first down.”

The Panthers are ranked 82nd in scoring (27.1 pg) and 33rd in points allowed (21.6 ppg).

My Expert Game Analysis and Pick

53 percent of public bettors like North Carolina to cover the ATS betting line and I can see why with the Tar Heels being far superior to the Panthers on both sides of the ball statistically speaking. There’s no doubt in my mind that North Carolina signal-caller Marquise Williams is the best player on the field for either team in this match up and that he will make give the Orange fits with his ability to both, pass and run the ball effectively.

Williams was one of just four quarterbacks in the nation last season to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for at least 750 yards. More importantly, I expect North Carolina’s stout defense to get after the Panthers right from the start. The Tar Heels have held two straight – and five of their seven opponents this season – to  14 points or less and I expect them to do the same to n offensively-challenged Pittsburgh team that has reached the 30-point plateau just twice this season.

The Tar Heels are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss and an identical 4-1 ATS in their L/5 road games against a team with a winning home record. While Pittsburgh has gone 11-4 ATS in their last 15 home games against a team with a winning road record, the Panthers are also just 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.

Tar Heels are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings and will win this game outright to cover the spread despite being on the road.

My Pick: North Carolina 35 Pittsburgh 21