Where and when: September 22, 2018, Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC, 12:20 PM ET
Kenan Stadium is back open for business.
After Hurricane Florence forced the cancellation of their Week 3 game against UCF, the North Carolina Tar Heels will welcome the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday in a conference match-up. The Tar Heels were getting drilled, 41-19, by East Carolina the last time they were on a football field. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is coming off a signature win over Georgia Tech.
Suspensions still stand for North Carolina players
The Tar Heels suspended 13 players, including quarterback Chazz Surratt, on their roster for selling Nike gear in the offseason. Those suspensions will be unaffected by the cancellation of the UCF game and continue on as handed down.
As a result of missing key players on offense and defense, the Tar Heels have struggled in back-to-back losses to California and East Carolina. Junior quarterback Nathan Elliott threw four interceptions in the season opener against California, and he had a QBR of 46.4 in the loss to East Carolina the following week.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team is missing Malik Carney, Malik Robinson, Tyrone Hopper and Tomon Fox. East Carolina exploded for 510 total offensive yards in their absence in Week 2.
Pittsburgh rebounds from Penn State loss
A lopsided drubbing at the hands of Penn State was all it took to snap some sense of urgency back into the Panthers. Georgia Tech ran into a renewed football team hell-bent on avoiding a 1-2 slump. They punched Georgia Tech in the mouth right out the gates by opening up a 21-point lead. Turnovers were key in their ability to pile points on the scoreboard.
Perhaps the only concern was the near collapse in the second half. Pittsburgh only managed to score three points in the final 30 minutes of the game and allowed Georgia Tech to pour on 19 points to come within five of sending the game into overtime. North Carolina is a wounded team with all of the suspensions, but the Panthers will have to do a better job of closing if they hope to avoid any more end-game drama.
- Tar Heels are 1-4 ATS in last 5 games coming off an ATS loss
- Tar Heels are 0-3-1 ATS in last 4 games in the month of September
- Tar Heels are 2-5 ATS in last 7 games played at home
- Panthers are 5-1 ATS in last 6 games within their conference
- Under is 6-0 in Panthers last 6 games on the road
- Under is 12-3-1 in Panthers last 16 games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Not even home-cooking can save this Tar Heels team from getting run into the ground by the Panthers.
The Tar Heels defense gave up 220 total yards on the ground against East Carolina and 160 yards against California, setting the stage for a big night for Panthers running back Qadree Ollison.
One of the unsung stories of the Penn State game was how effective the Panthers were running the football with Ollison, who had 21 carries for 119 yards and 1 touchdown. He followed that performance with a 91-yard and two-touchdown game against Georgia Tech.
The Tar Heels haven’t shown the ability to slow down the run, and now, they’ll be forced to try and do so against a 225-pound back that averaged 5.7 yards per carry against the No. 13-ranked team in the country.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Panthers
Full-Game Total Pick
The over has won out in four of the last five head-to-head meetings between these two teams. Not to mention the Tar Heels have been giving up points like free samples at a grocery store. It would be wise to take the over in this game, as I expect a big offensive performance from the Panthers exploiting a patchwork North Carolina defense.
Prediction: Over (49)