NC State Wolfpack vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Betting Picks

October 1, 2020

Date: Saturday, October 3rd 
Time: 12:00 PM ET 
Venue: Heinz Field
Network: ACC Network
Spread: Pitt -14
O/U: 47.5

The 1-1 N.C. State Wolfpack will go on the road Saturday to face off with the 3-0 Pittsburgh Panthers at 12:00 PM ET in Heinz Field. You can watch the game on the ACC Network or ESPN3. The Panthers have worked themselves into the top-25 and will look to extend their perfect season against a Wolfpack team that is very up and down. If the good version of the Wolfpack shows up, the Panthers better be ready for a battle. Let’s dive into how this one will end up and who will cover the spread. 

When The N.C State Wolfpack Have The Ball

The Wolfpack have been a volatile team for the past few seasons and their first two games showed exactly why. They begun the season by upsetting the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 45-42 in a game they led from start to finish. They ran for four touchdowns on the ground and RB Ricky Person, who ran in two, threw a two-yard trick play TD. 

They then went into Virginia Tech as slight underdogs and got blown out. QB Bailey Hockman was atrocious in the first half and he was benched after throwing two interceptions on just 82 yards. Sophomore Devin Leary, who has a lot more potential, stepped in and completed 12/16 passes for 165 yards and a score. 

It remains to be seen who will get the start on Saturday and the coaching staff has been purposely unclear. If I had to guess, Hockman once again gets the start with a very short leash. You can bench Hockman if he starts, but it gets muddy if Leary starts and ends up being benched for Hockman. Neither guy is necessarily a difference maker, but Hockman looked miserable under center and we already know his ceiling. I’d prefer to see Leary starting if I was betting the Wolfpack. 

Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight share one of the more underrated backfields in the country. Person Jr. is more of the lightning to Knight’s thunder, but both can break one loose at any given time. At wide receiver, Emeka Emezie and Devin Carter deserve a quarterback that can deliver them the ball. Emezie is one of the more sure-handed receivers in the country and we’ll wonder why he didn’t do more in college once he’s in the NFL. C.J. Riley and Thayer Thomas are constant RZ threats and Leary will rely on them more than Hockman. If the Wolfpack want to upset the Panthers, I think they need to let Devin Leary run this offense. He has far more potential and a lot less film. 

When The Pittsburgh Panthers Have The Ball

The Panthers have already played three games, which feels like a whole lot compared to the rest of the country. They’ve looked excellent in each, beating an increasingly better opponent each week. They opened things up with a 55-0 win over Austin Peay, followed up by a 21-10 victory over Syracuse. They then hosted the 24th-ranked Louisville Cardinals team and escaped with a 23-10 win. 

The Panthers rely on their defense, and it all starts with Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones. They each have 3.5 sacks on the season and live in opposing backfields. Linebackers Cam Bright and SirVocea Dennis are tackle machines and both have extremely bright heads on their shoulders. On the backend, Damar Hamlin and Paris Ford have NFL talent and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Hamlin shadow Emezie. Nothing comes easy against this Pitt Panthers defense. 

Offensively, the Panthers are far from a scary team, but they get it done. Kenny Pickett has been starting for Pitt since 2018 and his chemistry with these receivers is irreplaceable. He might not be a very great QB on his own right, but this receiving core elevates him to a different level. It starts with Taysir Mack, who caught 73 balls for 736 yards in 2019. He’s a future NFL slot receiver and dictates a ton of attention from any defense. With that being said, freshman Jordan Addison has been excellent with team-leading 21 catches and 169 yards. The second-leading receiver has just nine catches. DJ Turner and Shocky Jacques-Louis start on the outside and both have the potential to post 100+ yards in any given game. 

Vincent Davis is a flashy RB prospect and he’s been excellent with 156 yards and two scores through three games. He’s complemented by A.J. Davis, whose intention is to lay the wood on any defender that wants to tackle him. You then have Israel Abanikanda, who’s a freshman built just like A.J. Davis. He’s averaged nearly five yards per carry to start the season. 

This is a very balanced team and nothing will come easy against them on either side of the ball. Kenny Pickett does a great job of taking care of the ball and getting it to his weapons safely. The defense is hard-nosed and a top-10 group in the Red Zone. They’ll make it extremely tough on a N.C. State Wolfpack offense that’s willing to turn the ball over. 

Spread Prediction

The Pick: Pittsburgh -14

This is a very tough game to bet as you never know which N.C State Wolfpack team is going to show up. Even more so when we don’t even know who will be under center for them. The Panthers are an extremely balanced football team and they don’t have a single glaring hole to pick on. 

The Wolfpack defense is middle of the road and the Panthers are going to have no problem putting up around 30 points. That means the Wolfpack offense has to score three times, which I don’t see happening. Give me the Panthers and the points up to 17. 

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Total Prediction

The Pick: Under 47.5
Final Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, N.C State 13

This is a perfect number and I’d much rather bet Pittsburgh and the spread than the total. I expect the Panthers to put up around 30 or so points and for them to hold N.C. State to two or three scores. It just comes down to which kind of scores as the under will hit if one of them is a field goal. The Pittsburgh Panthers defense is truly elite and the offense is bonafide consistent. N.C State can’t say that about either side of the football. 

 I lean the under here as I expect the Wolfpack to struggle offensively all game long. The Panthers won’t, but they aren’t an explosive offense in the first place and 30 points is hard enough for them to put up against an FBS opponent. 

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