Free CFB Pick: NC State vs. North Carolina

Two familiar foes renew a state rivalry this Saturday afternoon when the North Carolina State Wolfpack travel to nearby Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina Tar Heels in an ACC showdown. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. EST and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.

NC State escaped with a 20-18 victory over Maryland last Saturday as a four-point favorite on the road to keep its ACC Atlantic Division title hopes alive after shocking Florida State 17-16 two weeks ago as a 17-point underdog at home. The Wolfpack are now 5-2 straight up but a costly 2-4-1 against the spread heading into this game.

In a stunning turn of events, North Carolina blew a late-game lead against its arch-rival Duke to drop a 33-30 decision as a 10.5-point road favorite last Saturday night. This loss dealt a crushing blow to the Tar Heels Coastal Division title chances and dropped their overall record to 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS.

Betting Storylines

The Wolfpack’s offense was able to put a decent amount of points on the board in some of its earlier non-conference games but has only managed to score a total of 37 points combined in last two games. To get by the Tar Heels on the road, NC State will need a solid effort from quarterback Mike Glennon, who has thrown for 1,988 yards and 14 touchdowns but is completing just 58.3 percent of his attempts. They will also need a better effort from a running game that is ranked 92nd in the nation in yards per game.

NC State’s defense has done a good job at picking up the slack in recent weeks for the lack of production on the other side of the ball, but it has already been torched by Tennessee and Miami for a combined 79 points earlier in the year. They cannot afford to fall too far behind early in this game as was the case against the Volunteers and Hurricanes.

The Tar Heels will quickly need to put last Saturday’s disappointment in Durham behind them and concentrate on playing a full four quarters this time around. They have the weapons on offense to light up the scoreboard with a solid balance between passing and running the ball. Quarterback Bryn Renner has 2,028 yards passing and 17 touchdown throws to complement Giovani Bernard’s 795 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
The problem for North Carolina has been an inconsistent defense that has allowed 28 points or more in half of the team’s games. Statistically, this unit looks like one of the best in the conference on paper, but it was manhandled in the loss to Duke, giving-up 510 yards of total offense including 234 yards on the ground.

Betting Odds and Trends

Pointspread: North Carolina -7
Total Line: OFF

The Wolfpack are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games on the road but 5-2-1 ATS against a team with a winning record. The total has stayed “under” in six of their last seven road games.

The Tar Heels are a perfect 6-0 ATS in their last six homes games and 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a SU loss. The total has gone “over” in five of their last six home games.

Head-to-head, the underdog is 12-2 ATS in the last 14 meetings and the total has stayed under in the last two games. NC State is 5-0 ATS in the last five contests between the two.

Betting Predictions

This should be a tight, hard-fought game between two teams that would love nothing more than to secure a much-needed win at the other’s expense. While the Tar Heels should prevail at home, especially coming off last week’s loss, stick with the Wolfpack to cover with the seven points on the road.

Take #155 NC State (+7) over North Carolina (Saturday, Oct.27, 12:30 p.m.)