There’s been little to takeaway from the first two Games for these teams only that both of them can be competitors in their respective conferences. West Virginia is getting more hype because of Will Grier, while NC State isn’t getting as much respect due to a near overhaul on defense with only three starters back. The Mountaineers got most of the early money and were -4 point road favorites as of Monday at YOUWAGER Sportsbook.
Both of these teams lost their big non-Conference Games last year with WVU falling to Virginia Tech 31-24 and NC State losing to South Carolina 35-28. Getting a win here would be huge going into the Conference season, though the Wolfpack still have to go to Marshall next weekend.
Everyone will tune into this Game because of Grier, who hasn’t faced much resistance in the first two Games with an incredible 12.68 yards per attempt to go with nine touchdowns and a 76.7% completion rate. This Game will be much different even though NC State’s defense isn’t as good as it has been with its entire line getting drafted this past spring. Still, the Wolfpack have plenty of talent and they’ll give some problems to Grier and company. The worry is that the run defense hasn’t been good against worse competition, giving up 4.3 yards per carry and 163 rushing yards to James Madison. The Mountaineers should not only have success with Grier through the air, but also on the ground where they’re averaging 5.6 yards per carry as a team with their three starting running backs all at 6.3 ypc or above.
The reason this Game will be close is because WVU’s defense is still an unknown. It’s been fine in the first two Games, yet Tennessee may not be a bowl team and Youngstown State isn’t good. This will be its first test of the year and even then the Wolfpack may not be a top-half offense in the ACC. Ryan Finley at least brings experience at quarterback and that’s the main thing going for him after throwing for 679 yards in the first two Games. He’s the main reason NC State has a chance in this Game as Reggie Gallaspy hasn’t gotten anything on the ground at only 3.3 yards per tote on 28 carries. That’s a terrible rate given the competition he’s gone against and if that happens in this Game, WVU has an immediate edge.
The Wolfpack haven’t been challenged yet and that’s the main reason to go with the road team. There’s a chance the Wolfpack have been taking it easy on their opponents and come out with more flare in this Game, but that’s a big bet on a team that returned just 10 starters in total. It’s hard to see the WVU offense getting completely stopped and it should be set for at least 30 or 40 points behind Grier.
The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-Conference Games, but haven’t covered in their last Four against the ACC. The Wolfpack have covered their last Four against the Big 12 and are 4-1 ATS in their last five at home vs. a team with a winning road record.