Week four of the 2011 college football season kicks off this Thursday night (8:00pm ET) with the North Carolina St. Wolfpack (2-1) of the ACC traveling to Cincinnati, OH to take on the host Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1) of the Big East. N.C. State rolled by a score of 35-13 over South Alabama last week, after losing at ACC-rival Wake Forest 34-27 the week before. Cincinnati destroyed Akron 59-14 last week, and was thoroughly handled at Tennessee the week before in a 45-23 loss.
N.C. State has had a porous secondary so far this season, ranking 103rd among FBS teams with an average of 271.3 yards per game allowed through the air. Their defense overall has been middle-of-the-pack, allowing a nearly-respectable 22.7 points per game, but they must tighten up their pass defense in this contest in order to stay in the game with an offense that ranks in the bottom half (76th) of FBS teams in YPG with 378 against mostly sub-par competition. Cincinnati has been explosive on offense, led by quarterback Zach Collaros, who has thrown for 521 yards and 7 touchdowns with no interceptions this season. The Bearcats rank 4th in the nation in scoring with an average of 51.3 points per game and rank 34th in total offense with an average of 433 yards per game. The running game has been a particular strength, ranking 15th with 239 YPG. On defense Cincy has been as leaky as the offense has been potent; ranking 94th against the pass with an average of 258.3 YPG allowed.
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N.C. State vs. Cincinnati Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
N.C. State Wolfpack +7.5
@Cincinnati Bearcats -7.5
Over 60.5 (-110)
Under 60.5 (-110)
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N.C. State vs. Cincinnati Pick:
The Wolfpack won last season’s meeting at home by a score of 30-19, covering the 2 point spread. The over came in over the 54.5 point total in that game. The under is 15-3 in N.C. State’s last 18 Thursday games, 6-2 in their last 8 games against the Big East and 7-3 in their last 10 games overall. The under is 9-1 in the Bearcats’ last 10 Thursday games and they are 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games overall.
The key to this game is the passing games of both teams; Mike Glennon for N.C. State has been just as explosive as Collaros has for Cincinnati, throwing for 745 yards with a 64.1% completion rate and 8 TDs with only 1 INT on the year. Both secondary’s have been vulnerable against the pass, and they will each be facing probably the best opposing QB they have seen thus far. Cincy has a very balanced spread-option attack and will be able to score on the ground as well as through the air with the dual-threat Collaros running the show. N.C State has been too shaky to take on the road even with a 7.5 point cushion, and Cincy does not have the defense to shut down a QB the caliber of Glennon. The two teams have not given up as many points as they could have thus far because they have been playing also-rans who have trouble converting in the red zone that will not be the case in this game. With two experienced and accurate quarterbacks, there will be a lot of footballs flying through the air and the pace of the game will be frenetic. The over is the play to make here as neither defense has shown the ability to stop the opposing offense from moving the ball up and down the field.