Anyone can beat anyone in the ACC Coastal division and that’s seen between North Carolina and Pittsburgh. No matter what happens in this game, it won’t be surprising. Playing at home, the Panthers get the edge opening as a -5 point home favorite for Thursday night’s contest.
The last eight matchups between these teams have been decided by one score so teasing the underdog wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Last year’s meeting was all about offense with UNC winning as a home underdog 38-35 behind 313 passing yards from Nathan Elliott. Both teams had success running the ball, but the main difference was that UNC passed for almost five more yards per attempt.
This year could look different, but only because of Pitt’s defense which is allowing 85.9 rushing yards and 20.1 points per game. The Panthers love playing low-scoring games and that’s what the goal will be in this one.
The question is how the Tar Heels want to play because they’ve been in higher scoring games, but that’s led to five losses in their last seven. Quarterback Sam Howell is quietly having a good season, averaging 8.3 yards per attempt for 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
He’s slinging the ball to Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome and that could work just fine against Pitt’s man coverage. Otherwise, it’ll be tough for UNC to run the ball even though both Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are averaging more than five yards per carry.
This offense is suddenly scoring on everyone, from the 31 points against Virginia last game to the 41 against Va. Tech before that.
The problem is that UNC isn’t stopping anyone on the other end, allowing almost 400 yards and 27.1 points per game. Early in the season, the Heels were doing just enough to win games, but they haven’t stopped anyone outside of Georgia Tech and Duke, the weakest teams in the division.
However, the Panthers haven’t been an easy team to back because of their offense which is averaging 20.9 points per game. They’ve had better games against bad defenses, but that’s not an easy thing to bet on. Kenny Pickett is averaging just 6.0 yards per attempt for nine touchdowns and eight picks with most of his passes going to Taysir Mack and Maurice Ffrench.
One would think the rushing attack is better, but that’s not the case as they’re averaging 3.6 yards per carry as a team. That said, A.J. Davis has been better in recent games and is averaging 4.6 ypc by himself.
Pitt is at home, but taking them by a spread of more than three points is a risky situation. All five of UNC’s losses have been by a single score so that’s another reason to take the underdog or at least tease them with something else.
The over is 7-1 in UNC’s last eight road games, but the under is 7-1 in Pittsburgh’s last eight conference games. The over is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these schools and the Tar Heel are 5-1 ATS in those games.
Predicted Score – Pitt 23 UNC 20