NC State vs UConn Odds & Picks: Bet the Home Underdog?
Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UConn running back Victor Rosa.
NC State vs UConn Odds
We've made it — college football Week 1 is here.
There's no better way to start off this college football season than some action on Thursday night as Dave Doeren’s North Carolina State Wolfpack travel to Storrs to face the Connecticut Huskies.
So, let’s take a look at the odds and make a betting pick and prediction for NC State vs. UConn.
NC State features a quarterback-offensive coordinator reunion as quarterback Brennan Armstrong transfers in from Virginia to man Robert Anae’s offense. Anae was the OC at Virginia in 2021 when Armstrong amassed 4,449 yards through the air to go with a 31:10 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
These types of offensive numbers will be a welcome site for a Wolfpack offense that went through four different quarterbacks in 2022, which resulted in rankings outside the top 95 in Success Rate, explosiveness and Points per Opportunity.
Defensively, NC State has had one of the most effective units in the country, but the Wolfpack will need to overcome a lack of returning production in order to limit explosiveness and have success in the red zone — two areas where they struggled in 2022.
The Wolfpack ranked outside the top 90 in both rush and pass play explosiveness allowed. These rankings are significant, as Connecticut's offense thrived at creating explosive plays a season ago, ranking sixth nationally in rushing play explosiveness and 54th in passing play explosiveness.
These explosive plays could be the difference in a game with a total projected at 41.4 by our own Collin Wilson.
In his second year at the helm for the Huskies, Jim Mora did a wonderful job retaining his roster, as Connecticut ranks fifth nationally in returning production, boasting a net TARP rating of 8.5. For a team that went bowling for the first time since 2015, this level of returning production is something to get excited about.
Offensively, second-year offensive coordinator Nick Charlton reunites with QB Joe Fagnano, whom he coached extensively at FCS Maine. Fagnano’s familiarity with Charlton’s scheme will be a significant upgrade from Zion Turner, who had an overall QBR of just 30.6 for the Huskies last season.
Additionally, Connecticut returns over 1,000 yards of production on the ground split between running backs Victor Rosa and Devontae Houston. These two experienced backs will have their production catalyzed by an offensive line that returns 102 starts.
Because of this, look for Connecticut to implement the running game early and often. Last season, Connecticut ranked sixth in rush rate and explosiveness on the ground. Although NC State’s defense was stout against the run last season, it returns just five starters on the defensive side and lost All-ACC linebackers Drake Thomas and Isaiah Moore.
Overall, this Connecticut offense will be much improved from a season ago with Fagnano under center in a system he's more than familiar with.
This, combined with a top-60 ranking in explosiveness, will be enough for Connecticut to find the end zone against an NC State defense that ranks outside the top 100 in returning production.
NC State vs UConn
Betting Pick & Prediction
Overall, I love the direction for both of these programs in the 2023 season. Connecticut built on its first bowl birth since 2015 by bringing back significant experience on both sides of the ball and adding a quarterback familiar with Charlton’s scheme.
On the other side, NC State will look to find consistency and long-term health at quarterback with the addition of Brennan Armstrong, who thrived in offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s offense at Virginia.
Ultimately, I'm more than happy to back Connecticut to stay within this number, which is currently sitting at over two touchdowns given what it brings to the table on both sides of the ball.
The Huskies return nine offensive starters, which will allow their offense to find success against a Wolfpack defense that ranks 105th nationally in returning production. In particular, Fagnano will be a massive upgrade at quarterback to give the Huskies a legitimate passing attack to go with a rushing attack that ranked sixth nationally in explosiveness in 2022.
Defensively, Connecticut ranks 14th nationally in returning production, which includes the return of middle linebacker Jackson Mitchell, who racked up 140 tackles in 2022. This experience will be on full display against an NC State defense that has struggled with Finishing Drives and lost five of its top six tacklers.
This early in the season, give me the points with the more experienced Huskies as NC State looks to solidify personnel on both sides of the ball.