It’s a bit of a downer for this week’s Thursday night ESPN national TV game after getting ranked foes LSU and Mississippi State last week. This week it’s unranked North Carolina State and Cincinnati on the docket for this one. I can guarantee you one thing: There will be a ton more points scored by the Wolfpack and Bearcats than the 25 the Tigers and Bulldogs managed.
Both clubs are 2-1 but really haven’t played anyone of note yet. The Wolfpack have had little trouble with Liberty and South Alabama—nice scheduling!—but lost two weeks ago by a touchdown at a mediocre-at-best Wake Forest team.
The Bearcats have beaten up on Austin Peay and Akron but were thumped in a visit to a Tennessee team that seemed exposed this past weekend by Florida. UC ranks fourth in the country in scoring, but that’s because of 131 points against the two patsies. It had just 23 in the loss to the Vols.
NC State at Cincinnati Betting Storylines
It’s a homecoming for NC State coach Tom O’Brien, a Cincinnati native. This offseason, O’Brien essentially forced out starting QB Russell Wilson when Wilson wouldn’t commit to giving up pro baseball (of course, he did and is now starring at Wisconsin). However, O’Brien also thought he had an excellent replacement in Mike Glennon. He might be right as Glennon threw a career-high four touchdown passes in Saturday’s 35-13 win over South Alabama. He has thrown for 745 yards and eight TDs with just one pick so far.
The Bearcats have one of the Big East’s top trio of skill position players in QB Zach Collaros, RB Isaiah Pead and WR D.J. Woods. Woods has 15 catches for 232 yards and a score, Pead has rushed for 257 yards and four scores and Collaros has thrown for 521 yards and seven TDs (UC has called off the dogs in its two blowout wins). There’s no question in my mind that Cincinnati has more firepower than NC State.
And the Wolfpack will be down three defensive starters for this one. That unit already had lost defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy (broken foot) for the first three games and cornerback Jarvis Byrd (anterior cruciate ligament) for the season. And now linebacker Terrell Manning will miss this game with a knee injury. The junior outside linebacker had 14 tackles in the first three games and had five sacks last season.
Dwayne Maddox takes Manning’s place. He started 11 times in 2009 and four in 2008. He had eight tackles last week after Manning went out versus South Alabama. Defensive end Jeff Rieskamp missed the past two games with a shoulder injury, but he is expected to play on Thursday.
As it is, NC State struggles defensively, allowing 243 passing yards and 376.7 yards overall.
These two teams also played in a Thursday night September game last year in Raleigh, with the Wolfpack winning 30-19 (as two-point favorites), behind a big night from Wilson. Collaros threw for 310 and three scores—Woods caught six of those passes for 146 yards and two TDs—but the UC rushing offense was ineffective. Cincinnati didn't run a play inside the NC State 32 until the final minutes, long after the Wolfpack had the game in hand.
NC State at Cincinnati Betting Odds and Trends
The Wolfpack have opened as eight-point favorites, according to college football odds, with the total at 59.5. The lean is more than 65 percent on UC. NCSU is 4-1 ATS in its past five non-conference games and as a dog of 3.5-10 points. UC is 0-5 ATS in its past five versus a team with a winning record. It is just 1-9 ATS in its past 10 following a straight-up win.
The ‘under’ is 4-0 in NCSU’s past four non-conference games. It is 9-1 in UC’s past 10 Thursday games.
College Football Predictions: NC State at Cincinnati Betting Picks
I simply don’t see either team stopping the other, barring lousy weather (forecast looks good), despite those ‘under’ trends. So I love the ‘over.' I think the Bearcats win the game but that it won’t be by more than a touchdown. Take NC State and the points.
Doc’s Sports will have his week four college football selections available on Thursday, and you can check out more information about his plays for this weekend.