It’s now or never with the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions, as the Pittsburgh Panthers need to find a way to slow down the dynamic North Carolina offense if there’s any hope of defending its title.
That is the best game of an otherwise underwhelming slate of Week 9 ACC contests.
With struggles by Miami and North Carolina St., some of the teams expected to challenge in the conference race have faded this season. Thursday night, the Wolfpack are listed by the sportsbook as a double-digit home favorite against Virginia Tech.
Clemson, fifth in both the Associated Press and American Football Coaches Association polls, is idle this week, as is surprising Duke. That leaves No. 10 Wake Forest and No. 16 Syracuse as the top-ranked ACC teams in action.
North Carolina (+400) is second to Clemson in the odds to win the ACC.
According to the college football playoff odds, the Tar Heels come in at +15000 in the odds to win the national title, while Wake Forest’s title odds are priced at +25000.
According to the college football betting lines, Clemson (-500) remains heavily favored in the odds to win the ACC title. North Carolina (+650), Syracuse (+1600), and Miami (+2800) are chasing in the wagering.
Game of the Week
North Carolina Tar Heels vs Pittsburgh Panthers
- Game, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29th, 8 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
- Line: North Carolina -3
Defending ACC champion Pittsburgh (4-3, 1-2 in ACC) has the second-best defensive pass efficiency in the conference, as the Panthers are allowing opponents to complete just 53% of their passes.
They haven’t faced North Carolina redshirt freshman Drake Maye yet, however, Maye leads the conference (2,283 passing yards, 24 TD passes and a 184.8 passing rating).
Drake Maye: PFF’s highest graded QB from Week 7♨️ pic.twitter.com/XqF9NRgGpb
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 17, 2022
Eight different Tar Heels (6-1, 3-0) have at least 10 catches, led by Josh Downs’ 37 in just five games.
Pittsburgh’s Israel Abanikanda leads the ACC with 959 rushing yards.
Whichever team has won scored at least 30 points in seven of the last eight encounters?
Pittsburgh has won the last two games, covering in both. However, the college football betting odds are currently listing the host Panthers as a field-goal underdog. With the total points listed at 65, expect the offenses to shine.
Rest of the Schedule
Virginia Tech Hokies vs North Carolina St. Wolfpack
- Date, time (TV): Thursday, Oct. 27th, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
- Line: North Carolina St. -13½
With the North Carolina St. (5-2, 1-2). Quarterback Devin Leary is out for the season, but Jack Chambers is set to make his second start. He had only 160 yards (no touchdowns) in a loss at Syracuse.
Marshall transfer Grant Wells is now the Virginia Tech (2-5, 1-3) quarterback. He has only seven touchdown passes this season, now facing the ACC’s No. 2-rated defense.
The Hokies have won five games in a row against North Carolina St. This will be just the second meeting between the teams in the last seven seasons. The college football betting line is projecting a comfortable win by NC St..
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Syracuse Orange
- Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29th, 12 noon ET (ABC)
- Line: Syracuse -2½
Quarterback Garrett Shrader and running back Sean Tucker will look to exploit a Notre Dame defense that allowed 146 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry) to UNLV last out. Shrader’s passing has helped Syracuse (6-1, 3-1) average 80 more air yards than last season.
Notre Dame (4-3) quarterback Drew Pyne is just 27-of-55 over the last two games. Tight end Michael Mayer is coming off a 115-yard effort against UNLV.
When the teams met in 2020, Notre Dame was listed by the college football odds as a 34-point favorite. It didn’t cover, but did prevail comfortably, 45-21. The Fighting Irish had 568 yards of total offense in that game.
With more than 200 yards both running and passing in three of the last four games, Notre Dame will look for another strong offensive effort against Syracuse.
Boston College Eagles vs Connecticut Huskies
- Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29th, 12 noon ET (CBS Sports Network)
- Line: Boston College -8
Boston College (2-5, 1-4) has won its last three games against UConn (3-5) by an average of 28.3 points.
Connecticut has shown signs of growth under coach Jim Mora Jr. However, in two games against ACC opponents this season, the Huskies have been blitzed, 89-24.
It’s been a so-so season to date for BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec (six interceptions, 59% completions). Perhaps a New England rivalry is what he needs to help Boston College snap a two-game losing skid.
Zay Flowers leads the ACC (52 catches, 691 receiving yards).
BC’s surrendered an ACC-high 14 touchdown runs this season. They will be facing a UConn team that’s significantly increased its rush average (99.6 yards/game to 186.9).
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs Florida St. Seminoles
- Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29th, 12 noon ET (ACC Network)
- Line: Florida State -23½
There’s been some positive signs since Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-2) fired coach Geoff Collins. However, this visit to Tallahassee figures to challenge the Jackets.
Florida St. (4-3, 2-3) is in the ACC top three in both total offense and total defense.
FSU’s lost three games in a row, all to ranked teams, but now face a Yellow Jackets’ team that’s just 13th (next-to-last) in total offense in the conference.
Tech has won four of the last six games against the ‘Noles, covering in the last eight.
Miami (Fl.) Hurricanes vs Virginia Cavaliers
- Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29th, 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
- Line: Miami (Fl.) -2½
It might be hard to find a more disappointing team this season than Miami.
The Hurricanes (3-4, 1-2) were favored to win the ACC Coastal Division title under first-year coach Mario Cristobal. However, after committing eight turnovers in a loss to Duke, the Hurricanes are fourth (tied) in the division.
Virginia (3-4, 1-3) has scored the fewest points in the ACC under new coach Tony Elliott. The Cavaliers averaged 393 passing yards a season ago to only 231 in 2022.
Virginia has covered against the college football odds in seven of the last nine games against Miami.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs Louisville Cardinals
- Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29th, 3:30 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
- Line: Wake Forest -4
When the season began, this game was circled because of the quarterbacks.
Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman has been as advertised ()1,755 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, three interceptions). However, Louisville’s Malik Cunningham has only five touchdown passes, although he has nine scores on the ground.
With Wake’s lone ACC loss an overtime thriller against Clemson, the Demon Deacons (6-1, 2-1) need to win out, and get some help, to make a return trip to the conference title game. Louisville (4-3, 2-3) is just focusing on becoming bowl eligible.
The teams have averaged 85 points over the last five meetings, with this total set at 62.