College Football Thursday Night: NC State Wolfpack at Cincinnati Bearcats Picks & Predictions

NC State Wolfpack at Cincinnati Bearcats
Thursday, 9/22/11, 8:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Cincinnati -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Cincinnati -7.5
Opening Total:  56
Current Total:  60.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Cincinnati Bearcats aim for revenge from last year's 30-19 loss in Raleigh

NC State finishes a home-and-home series with Cincinnati tonight, as the program picked up a 30-19 win as two-point home favorites in Raleigh a year ago.  The Wolf Pack have been led by the offensive play of redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon, who has completed over 70 percent of his passes and thrown for seven touchdowns in his last three halves of play.  He’s filled in nicely for transfer Russell Wilson, who is now in Madison and playing for the Wisconsin Badgers.  NC State is 4-2 ATS as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points and 3-0 ATS when playing Big East opponents.

The Wolfpack defense has been forcing opponents into mistakes early on, ranking third nationally in interceptions with seven in its first three contests.  NC State’s rushing game is just starting to get going, as it has really missed Mustafa Green, who has been wearing a boot on his foot and Wilson’s departure.  Curtis Underwood is the team’s leading rusher with 73.3 yard per game average.  It’s still a concern moving forward this season due to gaining just 95 rushing yards and averaging 2.6 yards per carry against South Alabama.

Cincinnati is preparing for a “Black Out” at Nippert Stadium in a nationally-televised contest, as the team will go 71 days without playing at the venue after tonight.  The Bearcats will be seeking revenge from last year’s loss, as quarterback Zach Collaros was 19-of-31 for 310 yards.  His main target that night was DJ Woods, who caught six passes for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Running back Isaiah Pead was limited in the contest due to injury.  Cincinnati is 9-8 ATS as a favorite over the last two-plus years, but 0-2 when laying 7.5 to 10 points.

The Bearcats lead the nation in takeaways and are tied for first in terms of turnover margin.  Cincinnati finished last year with a minus-15 turnover margin, but that has turned around in a big way in 2011.  The team is also getting out to fast starts in front of its home fans, outscoring opponents by a 90-0 margin in the first half.  Cincinnati is use to playing in this prime-time event, posting a 3-1 record in ESPN Thursday Night contests.  “We’ve had great balance in the first three games,” commented second-year head coach Butch Jones.  “We’ve invested a lot of time, effort and energy into our run game.”  Pead has been saved for later games in the schedule, gaining 257 yards and four touchdowns this season, averaging 9.5 yards per carry, which paces the Big East.

Bettors will likely back the Wolfpack due to their 22-8-1 ATS mark as an underdog, while the Bearcats are 1-9 ATS following a straight-up win.

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