Louisville exploded out of the gate this season with three straight wins and covers, but as word got out, the lines got tougher, and the Cardinals are 0-2-1 against the spread the last three weeks. North Carolina State, meanwhile, playing under the radar, is 4-0 ATS over its last four games. Both teams will try to avoid a second ACC defeat when they meet Saturday afternoon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Point spread: The Cardinals opened as 20-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 37-23.4 Cardinals (College football picks on every game)
Why the NC State Wolfpack can cover the spread
The Wolfpack had won three games in a row, then gave Clemson a good scare last week, eventually falling 24-17 in overtime at Death Valley. North Carolina State trailed the Tigers 3-0, 10-3 and 17-10 but tied the game each time. The Wolfpack then drove 55 yards late in the fourth quarter and had a chance at the upset, but kicker Kyle Bambard missed from 33 yards out, sending the game to overtime.
North Carolina State lost when it allowed Clemson to score a touchdown on the opening possession of overtime, then threw an interception on its first play on offense.
On the day, the Wolfpack outrushed the Tigers 128-117 and won time of possession by a 31-29 edge, but they missed two field goals, had another attempt blocked, had to punt once after reaching the Clemson red zone, threw an interception inside Tigers territory and committed 13 penalties for 120 yards.
On the season, North Carolina State has outgained five of six opponents and outrushed each of them by an average of 90 yards per game.
Why the Louisville Cardinals can cover the spread
Louisville bounced back from its tough loss at Clemson three weeks ago to defeat Duke last Friday 24-14. The Cardinals scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game, led 10-7 at the half, bumped that to 17-7 early in the third quarter and held on from there. They later iced the game, with help from a roughing-the-kicker penalty, on a short Lamar Jackson touchdown run with just over two minutes to go.
On the night, Louisville outgained the Blue Devils 469-239 and outrushed them 288-110. Jackson, still the Heisman Trophy favorite, threw for 181 yards and one touchdown and ran for 144 yards and that other score. Jackson has now accounted for 30 touchdowns this season, 15 on the ground and 15 through the air.
Stretching back to last season, the Cardinals have now outgained and outrushed their last eight opponents, going 7-1 SU and 5-2-1 ATS in the process.
Duke demonstrated how to slow the Louisville offense down: hold on to the ball, move the chains and work the clock. And North Carolina State seems perfectly capable of pulling something similar. The Cardinals may well win this game outright, but the smart money on the Vegas lines plays the Wolfpack, plus the points.
Louisville is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games against its conference.
The total has gone over in five of Louisville's last six games.
North Carolina State is 5-1 SU in its last six games after a loss.
All college football betting lines and point-spreads data courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and Odds Shark YouTube for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.