Backup quarterback Ben DiNucci looks to lead the Pittsburgh Panthers as they go after their first ACC win of the year, when they host Ryan Finley and the NC State Wolfpack at noon ET on RSN affiliates (live stream).
Coach Pat Narduzzi will have to try to get his team its first conference win without starting quarterback Max Browne, who was injured during Pitt’s loss to Syracuse. Pittsburgh is one of the worst teams in the ACC this year, as only one of three teams winless during conference play. Pittsburgh’s problems don’t lie on one side of the ball either — it ranks in the bottom three of both scoring offense and scoring defense.
After a win over Louisville, NC State ranks in the top 20 of both the AP and Coaches polls for the first time in nearly 15 years. NC State’s fourth-ranked scoring offense in the ACC will continue to rely on Finley. He’s the second most accurate quarterback in the conference and will look to continue to get the ball to his talented wide receiving core.
Time, TV Channel, and streaming info:
- Time: Noon ET
- Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
- TV: Regional affiliates
- Steam: ACC Network Extra via WatchESPN
- Odds: NC State is favored by 10 points
NC State vs Pittsburgh news
NC State’s brutish defensive line is ready to welcome DiNucci to ACC play with a couple of sacks. NC State’s defensive line has been sublime to start the season:
They managed to sack Jackson four times in the first half. Eurndraus Bryant, the biggest of the big nasties up front, was credited with two of those (though to me it looked like Jackson slipped away on one of those only to be finished off by Darian Roseboro). Bradley Chubb and Shawn Boone were credited with the other two sacks.
NC State’s great start is heating up extension talks with Dave Doeren to the chagrin of some:
Reports emerged Tuesday that NC State and Dave Doeren are in the middle of contract negotiations, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising given NC State’s 5-1 start
While some may not necessarily like the timing of this move considering Doeren’s modest overall record at State and considering that the ultimate result of this season is far from determined, NC State needed to do something
Pittsburgh will have to convert on third down much better than it did at Syracuse if it wants to leave Heinz Field with a victory:
Pitt’s play calling was just really questionable in more than a few places. The glaring problem for Pitt all day on offense was third down. I don’t think they converted one until late in the game, in fact, and they finished 3-13. Just not good.
I don’t know where Pitt goes from here on offense but it’s pretty clear that the sweeps and trick plays that were effective last year aren’t working anymore.
Pittsburgh should attempt to take advantage of NC State’s shoddy secondary if its offensive line can protect DiNucci:
The visitors rank 13th in the nation in sacks, with 17 through six weeks. Senior defensive end Bradley Chubb accounts for 6.5 of those and could give Pitt’s offensive line trouble.
Of course, if DiNucci is able to get a few passes off, he could have a big day, as North Carolina State’s passing defense ranks 122nd among FBS teams, allowing 296.3 yards per game through the air.
Will Pittsburgh be able to slow down NC State?
Pittsburgh sports the worst offensive line in the ACC and struggles to run or throw the ball with any sort of effectiveness. They lack big playmakers or players who are dangerous in space. NC State has a weak secondary but a defensive line that imposes its will on any and every team unlucky enough to face it. Pittsburgh cannot win this game if it does not slow down this pass rush, and I’ve seen no evidence that it will be able to.
Pittsburgh vs. NC State prediction
NC State has its eyes on the ACC title game this season, while Pitt is just looking to get a win. Pitt’s lack of execution on either side of the ball will make it near impossible to beat NC State. NC State is firing on all cylinders, playing the best football of its season right now, and is already gearing up for a showdown with Clemson in three weeks. It won’t let Pittsburgh stand in its way of getting there with only one loss. NC State should easily dispatch Pittsburgh.