North Carolina (6-1, 3-0) at Pittsburgh (6-1, 4-0)
When: Thursday, October 29th, 2015
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Coastal Division of the ACC has three unbeaten teams and two of them will meet tonight at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0) will play the Pittsburgh Panthers (4-0) in a huge conference game that could go a long way in determining who plays in the ACC Championship Game. The Tar Heels lost their season opener at South Carolina, but have since reeled off six straight wins. They have held their opponents to 14 points or less in five of those games and own the 2nd best passing defense in the country. Teams can rush on Carolina as they have the 112th best rush defense, but only allow a mere 137 yards per game through the air. Offensively, the score 38.4 points a game while racking up 473 yards of offense per game. Quarterback Marquise Williams is completing 68% of his passes, but also has 7 interceptions on the season after throwing 9 all of 2014. He’s made up for it with his running. Williams is second on the team with 476 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He really doesn’t have a favorite target as four wide receiver have between 302 and 328 receiving yards on the season. North Carolina will host the other undefeated Coastal team next week – Duke.
Pittsburgh’s only loss this season came at currently undefeated Iowa 27-24. The Panthers four ACC wins have all come by 7 points or less and three of those four were on the road. Including tonight, they get to play four of their last five at home. They are led offensively by wide receiver Tyler Boyd who is second in the ACC with 53 receptions and has also rushed 15 times for 68 yards. He has a season-high 12 catches last week in the win at Syracuse. At running back, Qadree Ollison has filled in nicely after James Conner was lost for the season with a knee injury, totaling 662 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Pitt has the 16th ranked defense in FBS allowing only 309 yard a game, while limiting the passing game to 174 yards. They are 2nd in the ACC with 22 sacks and allow just 21 points a game. Pitt will play Duke after the Tar Heels get them next week, but before that, the Panthers have a home date with Notre Dame. Pittsburgh has a legitimate shot at getting into the College Football Playoff if they win out. It’s a big IF, but it is possible.
I expect this to be a close game throughout and Pitt has proven this season they can win the close games. I’ll take the Panthers and the points tonight.
Pick: Pittsburgh +3