College football is back in session on Thursday night when the Cincinnati Bearcats take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack. This Big East vs. ACC clash will be an interesting non-conference battle that has both teams searching for respect. The college football betting odds posted by Bet Mania have the Wolfpack as slight 1.5 point favorites to win this game.
Cincinnati Bearcats: The Bearcats are 1-1 as they enter this game. They lost the season opener at Fresno St and then rebounded quite nicely to pound Indiana St. by a final score of 40-7. New head coach Butch Jones is still trying to prove to the fans and supporters that the Bearcats have not lost a step since Brian Kelly jumped ship and headed to Notre Dame. Though the Bearcats beat Indiana St. soundly in the last game, they struggled at times and only managed only 12 points in the first half. In the second half they were bailed out by a rushing attack that gained 263 yards on the ground. The real concern for Bearcat backers is the line play on both sides of the ball. The offensive line has struggled protecting the quarterback all season, but thankfully the Bearcat field general, Zach Collaros is fleet of foot. The loss of Vidal Hazelton on the season to injury has been a very tough void to fill. On defense, they rarely pressure the opposing passer and that could hurt them in this contest against NC State.
North Carolina St. Wolfpack: The Wolfpack are 2-0 on the year after getting an opening win over Western Carolina and following that up with a road win at Central Florida. The win over Central Florida was particularly impressive because the defense had to make up for the offense and it is usually the other way around. The defense was responsible for five turnovers and one score as they returned an interception for a touchdown. The Pack added a blocked punt to turn out a well-rounded win on the road. The Wolfpack had some issues on offense only gaining 239 total yards and allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown on special teams, but they still managed to walk away with the win. Quarterback Russell Wilson is a dual threat in the air and on the ground and is taking a workman’s like attitude about the upcoming game against Cincinnati.
“We got back home and I really realized that we need to get ready for Cincinnati,” he said. “It’s exciting, that’s the great thing about football, you can play Saturday and then, this week, it’s the next Thursday.
“It’s no more exciting for me, a game’s a game. The crowd may be a little bit louder here [on Thursday]. I know here they are always pretty loud. Hopefully, they are all in red but it’s definitely exciting. At the same time, you have to just treat it like just another game, get out there and do your best.”
Game Time prediction: Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien is in his fourth season and finally has the pieces in place that he wants. Wilson is underrated as a quarterback, but he is a viable option at quarterback and will do well against a Bearcat defense that has a lack of pressure from the front.
The Bearcats' offense is good enough to score some points on Thursday but the Wolfpack defense is very opportunistic and will cause some turnovers. This will be the difference in the game. The Bearcats are 3-10 against the spread (ATS) in non-conference games and the Wolfpack are 8-1 ATS in the last nine games coming off a road game. The Bearcats' trend may be a bit misleading considering the coaching and personnel change but it reflects how tough it can be to play out of conference.The Wolfpack are 9-3-1 ATS in the last 13 games at home and 8-2-2 ATS in the last 12 games off an ATS win. North Carolina St is returning home bubbling over with confidence after an impressive road win and that will translate into a win on Thursday night.
The play for me is North Carolina St -1.5 as they win a high scoring affair on ESPN on Thursday night.
Final: North Carolina St 31 Cincinnati 27
College football Previews
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews, and predictions. Feel Free to contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org