Conference pride is on the line when the North Carolina State Wolfpack host the Cincinnati Bearcats in Raleigh on Thursday night. Both the ACC and Big East need resume wins in order to impress the selection committee come bowl season.
Oddsmakers at Sportsbook have set the Wolfpack as 1.5-point home chalk after their stellar defensive showing at Central Florida in Week 2. North Carolina State turned five turnovers by the Knights into a 28-21 victory as a 3-point road underdog in Orlando. It improved N.C. State to 2-0 on the season with an equal 2-0 mark against the spread. The Wolfpack opened the season with a 48-7 win over Western Carolina as 33-point favorites.
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Bearcats bettors haven't had the same success at the window. Cincinnati is off to a 1-1 start and has yet to cover in its Sportsbook two games of 2010. It was defeated 28-14 by Fresno State as a 2.5-point road pup in Week 1, following that with a 40-7 win over Indiana State but falling short of the 44-point spread. That ATS slump has carried over from last season, leaving Cincinnati backers without a cover in their last seven games. In order to come through for Bearcat faithful, Cincy and new head coach Butch Jones must find a way to jumpstart the team's offensive line. The Bearcats were able to push around the FCS Sycamores last week, but gave up eight sacks against the Bulldogs and managed only 234 total yards of offense in Week 1. Sportsbook
Quarterback Zach Collaros completed just under 69 percent of his passes for 130 yards versus Indiana State and did some damage with his feet as well. He rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown, helping the Cincinnati ground game rumble for a combined 263 yards. The Bearcats are still without top tailback Isaiah Pead, who is expected to sit out with a knee injury on Thursday. The Wolfpack rushing attack has been inconsistent in the Sportsbook two games of the schedule. North Carolina State posted 129 yards on the ground and two touchdowns in the win over Western Carolina but got only 104 yards out of top backs Mustafa Greene and Dean Haynes versus the Knights last week. The Bearcats, who top the Big East with only 77 rushing yards allowed per game, will lock down on those would-be rushers. With both teams having issues on the offensive side of the ball, Thursday's 55-point total seems too steep.
The Wolfpack rank atop the ACC in total defense, giving up an average of only 248.5 yards heading into Week 3. Cincinnati has allowed only 275 yards per game this year – second lowest in the Big East. North Carolina State played under the 53-point total in Central Florida last weekend while the Bearcats stayed below the 57-point number in Week 1's loss to Fresno State. This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs.