Two of the top quarterbacks in the country face off when 25th-ranked Pitt hosts North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in an ACC game at Heinz Field. The game will have a national TV audience and the attention of college football and Pitt betting.
North Carolina’s Sam Howell entered the season as one of the Heisman Trophy favorites. However, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett has emerged as the ACC’s best QB while leading the Panthers to first place in the Coastal Division.
Pickett has passed for 3,171 yards and 29 touchdowns, marking himself as a Heisman candidate. He needs 113 yards to break the Pitt career record held by Alex Van Pelt with 11,267.
Howell, North Carolina’s career passing leader, is coming on strong after a slow start to the season. He has 2,408 yards passing and 20 TDs overall while also running for 699 yards and eight scores.
North Carolina (5-4) has alternated losses and wins in its last six games and is coming off an upset of previous unbeaten Wake Forest. Pitt (7-2) was won five of its last six games.
Here are the lines for North Carolina-Pitt at DraftKings:
Spread: North Carolina +7 (-115), Pitt -7 (-105)
Moneyline: North Carolina +205, Pitt -255
Over/Under: 73 O (-115), U (-105)
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North Carolina-Pitt Betting Preview
Playing in a game nationally televised by ESPN, Pickett has a chance to impress Heisman voters while facing a suspect defense.
North Carolina is 97th in FBS in total defense, allowing 420.9 yards a game. The Tar Heels are also giving up an average of 33.4 points, which ranks 110th.
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Pitt leads the nation in scoring at 45.0 points a game. The Panthers have scored at least 50 points in four games in a season for the first time since 1905 when that team’s wins included a 67-0 pasting of the Butler YMCA.
Pickett has a big-time receiver to target in Jordan Addison, who has 11 touchdown receptions. That is the most by a Pitt player since Larry Fitzgerald led the nation with 22 in 2003 when he was runner-up in the Heisman balloting.
Pitt’s Sam Scarton is one of the top kickers in the country. He has made 12 of 13 field goal attempts and 47 of 48 extra-point tries.
North Carolina also has a dangerous wide receiver in Josh Downs, who is third in the nation with 8.2 catches a game. He is also sixth with 112.7 yards while scoring eight TDs.
The North Carolina-Pitt Bet We Like
Pitt -7 (-110) MGM
Pitt can be infuriating at times. Exhibit A being its inexplicable loss to Western Michigan at home. Exhibit B being the loss to Miami a week after a stirring victory over college football blueblood Clemson.
However, everything lines up for Pitt to cover the touchdown spread in this one, notably Pickett having plenty of incentive to shine on a national stage and with numerous NFL general managers expected to be in attendance. North Carolina is better than the Butler YMCA, but it is hard to imagine the Tar Heels slowing him down.
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Pitt beat North Carolina 34-27 in overtime in 2019 the last time the teams met. And the last nine meetings have been decided by an average of 4.2 points.
However, this game will buck the trend and not quite so close.
Pitt 42, North Carolina 31