The North Carolina Tar Heels visit the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday in the ACC opener for both NCAAF teams. The No. 17 Tar Heels are 3-0 on the season, while the Panthers have stumbled to a 1-2 start. UNC is doing what it does best and is moving the football and putting up points. The Panthers aren’t doing a lot of scoring, but have played decent defense for the most part. The North Carolina vs Pittsburgh odds have the Tar Heels favored by 7.5 points and the total on the game is 50.
Line: North Carolina -7.5
Streaming: ACC Network
Tar Heels Offense Rolling Along
A big reason why the Tar Heels were No. 17 in the latest NCAA football rankings is the offense, which is averaging 465.7 yards and 34 points per game. North Carolina is passing for 325 yards per game, although quarterback Drake Maye has just four TD passes and four interceptions. The running game is doing its thing, led by Omarion Hampton’s 317 yards and six touchdowns. The Tar Heels have scored nine rushing touchdowns on the season.
The Tar Heels haven’t been great defensively, but they haven’t been all that bad. They’re allowing 21.3 points per game, but when you have an offense like UNC you don’t need to do a whole lot more. North Carolina could tighten up on the run defense, which is allowing 4.9 yards per carry.
Panthers Need Better Quarterback Play
The stats show the Pitt Panthers are scoring 24 points per game. But that’s a little misleading. The Panthers scored 45 points against Wofford, but just 27 points against Cincinnati and West Virginia combined. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec has struggled, completing just 46.7% of his passes with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Pittsburgh can run the ball a little bit, but not well enough to make up for the struggles of the passing game.
The Pittsburgh defense is allowing 17 points a game, so it’s kept them around. But the offense hasn’t been able to get the job done. That’s why Pitt is 1-2 straight-up and 1-2 against the point spread. The Panthers have been solid against the pass and the run, but are facing a much better offense than anything they’ve seen so far.
What to Expect
North Carolina isn’t going to come out and do anything different than its done so far. They have several advantages in the NCAA football matchups and will try to take advantage of those. That means mixing up the run and the pass and keeping the Panthers’ defense off balance.
The Panthers need to run the ball and need Jurkovec to play the way he’s capable of. If the running game can get going, that could help open things up for the passing game a little bit. The Panthers will likely stick with the run as long as it’s working. They have a chance to move the ball on the ground, but need the offensive line to put things together and play well.
Who to Bet On?
The college football odds have moved up a little bit on this game, which saw the Tar Heels open as 6-point favorites. Considering how well UNC has played, the line move isn’t a surprise. But the North Carolina vs Pittsburgh odds on UNC -7.5 does take a bit of value away from the road team. It’s one thing to ask a team to win by seven points. It’s something else to ask them to win by more than a touchdown on the road.
The North Carolina vs Pittsburgh odds on the total might be a shade high considering Pittsburgh’s offensive struggles. The Pitt Panthers can hold most teams in check when it’s playing well. But the Tar Heels are likely to find ways to put points on the scoreboard.
It’s a tough game to play due to the line move, but the play in this one is likely to take North Carolina -7.5, as the Tar Heels look to make up for overtime losses the last two times they traveled to Pittsburgh.
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