NCAA Football Game Preview: North Carolina at Pittsburgh – 11/11

Nov 11, 2021

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Game: North Carolina Tar Heels at Pittsburgh Panthers  

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET 

Odds: Tar Heels +6.5, Panthers -6.5 

Total: 73 

Another week, another ranked opponent for North Carolina and head coach Mack Brown. First, it was Notre Dame where the Tar Heels suffered a 44-34 loss. Last week, the North Carolina offense was virtually unstoppable in a 58-55 victory over previously No. 9-ranked Wake Forest. Now, Brown and company face the 21st-ranked Pitt Panthers on the road.  

After facing a pretty good Demon Deacons offense last week, the Tar Heels get the pleasure of facing the nation’s top-ranked scoring offense. That’s right. It’s Pittsburgh that leads the country in scoring putting up 45.4 points per game. Quarterback Kenny Pickett is the Panthers triggerman and the leader of Pitt’s version of the Air Raid. Currently, Pickett is fifth in the country in passing yards with 3,171 and he has tossed 29 touchdown passes in the Panthers’ nine games. 

The Pitt offense is a juggernaut. The Panthers rank No. 2 in the nation in total offense averaging 543.1 yards per game. Only Virginia (545.2) averages more. Pickett will take on a Tar Heels defense that is suspect. There are definitely a few holes that Pickett can exploit. North Carolina allows 420.9 yards of offense and 33.4 points per game to its opponents. As evidence of defensive issues, consider the Tar Heels’ last four games. North Carolina has allowed 35 or more points in each of its last four games. They have allowed at least 42 in the last three in a row.  

As bad as North Carolina is on defense, the offense can compete with Pitt’s. QB Sam Howell is one of the nation’s best. He has thrown for over 2,400 yards and 20 touchdowns leading a UNC offense that scores 38.9 points per game and puts up 488.8 yards. Remarkably, the 58 points scored last week was not the team’s highest output of the season. The Heels have scored 59 points twice this season.  

Where the Tar Heels may differ from other Air Raid teams like Pitt is in the run game. North Carolina has been known to run wild on teams that allow it. Last week, RB Ty Chandler ran for 213 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Wake Forest. Running against Pitt might be a bit more difficult. The Panthers rank 15th in the country in run defense allowing only 107.1 yards per game on the ground. 

North Carolina has won eight of its last ten games against Pitt. The last four games have been pretty tight. They did not play last year. Pitt won in 2019 34-27. North Carolina won the previous three games by scores of 38-35, 34-31, and 37-36. 

UNC is only 2-4 ATS this season in its last six games. Pitt is 5-1 ATS in its last six. The total for tonight’s game is a big one at 73, which is not surprising given the talents of these two offenses. The Over has hit in six of the Tar Heels’ last eight games and 14 of the Panthers’ last 17.