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In college football, Week 3 is always around the time when it really gets going. Power-5 teams are normally done with their cupcake games and before conference play officially starts, they like to schedule a real test against a fellow power program.
That’s exactly what’s happening in our game, where ACC team NC State will head north to Morgantown to play Big-12 team West Virginia at 12:00 P.M ET. The rare matchup between the Wolfpack and Mountaineers will be the first game on FS1’s slate this Saturday.
The last time these two teams met was back in 2010 when West Virginia was part of the Big East rather than the Big 12. NC State won that game 23-7 in Morgantown, and with the Mountaineers coming off a blowout at Mizzou, their current undefeated club will be looking for a repeat performance.
Wolfpack Off to a Raging Start
For the second straight season, the NC State Wolfpack started with two wins right off the bat, beating East Carolina and Western Carolina in Weeks 1 and 2. Now, the Wolfpack will have their first real test of the season against West Virginia from the Big 12.
— NC State Football 🐺🐺🏈 (@PackFootball) September 10, 2019
The one standout that must be talked about is the Wolfpack defense, which has allowed just six points and less than 400 total yards in their first two games. Although the competition isn’t on par with the likes of other ACC programs, allowing 49 total rushing yards in two games cannot be ignored. And, for that matter, East Carolina is in a conference (AAC) that considers themselves the sixth power conference.
While their defense is the highlight, the offense hung up 75 points combined in two games. Overall, they haven’t turned the ball over once, have allowed just one sack in 72 passing attempts and rank in the Top 20 in total yards per game (522.5).
WVU in Flux This Season
The West Virginia Mountaineers are the pride of West Virginia but this season may be a tough one all around. The program is in a state of transition right now having lost superstar quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver David Sills V to the NFL and head coach Dana Holgorsen to a resignation. Holgorsen later took the head coaching job at Houston.
Under Holgorsen, the program had a string of five straight winning seasons going, including a 10-win campaign in 2017. Neal Brown, previously the head coach at Troy, took over before the 2019 season but it’s been rocky through two games.
Coach Brown on what they are focused on improving…
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) September 10, 2019
In their opener, the Mountaineers barely held off James Madison, an FCS opponent, beating them by a single touchdown (20-13). Then last week, things really went downhill as they had their doors blown off by Mizzou 38-7 on the road.
Speaking to media on Tuesday, coach Brown stressed his four “non-negotiables”: playing hard, playing tough, doing what you’re coached to do, and being invested. Against Mizzou, Brown they did a “very poor job” in the toughness portion, which shows in their rushing numbers. Through two games, the team has just 64 yards rushing while averaging 1.1 yards per carry.
Through the air, WVU has thrown three interceptions already and is averaging 5.8 yards per attempt. Last season, Grier threw eight picks all season and averaged 9.7 yards per attempt.
West Va. is:
- 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games vs. ACC.
- 1-3-2 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight-up loss.
- 7-22-2 ATS in their last 31 home games vs. team w/winning road record.
NC State is:
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. Big 12.
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following an ATS loss.
- 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games on field turf.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
There’s one thing that’s clear from the first few weeks of college football: this West Virginia team is nothing like the one we’re used to. They were outgained 328-294 by an FCS school in their home/season opener and followed it up with an embarrassing loss in Week 2 which saw them trailing 31-0 at halftime. On the flip side, the NC State Wolfpack has handled business, outscoring opponents 75-6 in two games. The fact that we can get them at just -6.5 is a gift; I’d get on it as soon as possible before it goes up. Home field advantage would normally mean something but this is truly a team in the first stage of a rebuild.
Prediction: NC State -6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This is even juicier than the NC State pick. For starters, the Wolfpack have a defense that’s allowed just six points in two games. The Mountaineers’ offense can’t get anything going (232.5 yards/game) so that’s a really bad matchup for first-year starter Austin Kendall. The WVU defense, however, is their only hope to keep this one respectable and being at home is a big part of that. Defense is less about talent than effort; getting the inspiration from 60,000 screaming West Virginian’s certainly will help the effort.
Prediction: Under 45