NC State vs. Wake Forest Betting Odds & Pick: Don’t Expect Offensive Fireworks on Saturday Night (Sept. 19)
Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.
- NC State and Wake Forest renew their annual in-state conference rivalry on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET.
- The Wolfpack are looking to start the 2020 season off strong after a disappointing 2019 campaign, while the Demon Deacons are looking for answers after tremendous roster turnover from last season.
- Darin Gardner breaks down odds and provides his predictions and pick for tonight’s ACC rivalry game.
NC State vs. Wake Forest Odds
|NC State Odds||+2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Wake Forest Odds||-2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+105/-125 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||52.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET|
NC State will be looking for revenge against Wake Forest after a 44-10 loss a season ago, while Wake Forest will be looking to rebound after a big loss to Clemson on Saturday.
The Wolfpack and Demon Deacons are in-state conference rivals dating back to 1908. NC State leads the all-time series 66-41-5, but this matchup has been a perfect coin-toss over the last two decades. In the last 20 matchups between the Pack and the Deacs, each team reports a 10-10 record straight-up; over their last 10 matchups, each team is 5-5.
NC State enters this game as a three-point favorite with an over/under currently sitting anywhere from 53 to 54.5 after opening at 55. I expect to see two offenses that struggle to move the ball due to inexperienced quarterbacks and a lack of continuity.
Check out our free NCAAF odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
NC State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack is coming off a disappointing 2019 season, finishing the year at 4-8 overall and a 1-7 record in ACC conference play. The team never quite figured out the quarterback position, with Devin Leary and Matt McKay each attempting more than 150 passes. After McKay’s decision to transfer this offseason, the job is Leary’s heading into 2020.
Leary’s 5.5 adjusted yards per attempt ranked 98th out of 102 qualifiers in 2019, and his 48.1% completion rate ranked 100th out of 102. Zooming out a bit, NC State’s offense ranked 115th in points per play, 130th in passing explosiveness, and 111th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play. During ACC play, the Wolfpack averaged 16.1 points per game and had a 37% offensive success rate, which ranked 11th among the conference’s 14 teams.
On the defensive side of the ball, NC State performed adequately, ranking 57th in yards per play allowed and 56th in defensive success rate.
Also of note, NC State was unable to conduct spring practices due to the statewide shutdown from COVID-19. The Wolfpack also suspended practices in late August due to an outbreak in the program. NC State’s players are coming into this game with a very limited practice reps to get ready.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest will be looking to rebound after being overwhelmed by Clemson in the team’s season-opener. It was a dismantling in every sense of the word, as Clemson held an advantage in yards per play (6.8 to 4.6) and limited the Demon Deacons to a 19.3% success rate in the first three quarters before garbage time. To put that into perspective, Akron’s 29.8% success rate ranked dead-last in the FBS last year.
Wake Forest’s offensive line struggled mightily against the Tigers defense, allowing seven sacks in the game. And to add insult to injury, Clemson’s defense wasn’t even at full strength: The Tigers were missing two projected starters in Xavier Thomas and Justin Foster.
2019 was really a tale of two seasons for Wake Forest. The Deacons offense excelled out of the gate, posting a 46% success rate over the first six games. However, after a shootout with Louisville in Wake’s sixth game, the offense took a major step back. Over their second-half of the season, Wake Forest’s success rate dropped to 37%. During ACC play, Wake Forest achieved a 39% offensive success rate, which ranked eighth in the conference.
However, the Demon Deacons defense consistently performed well throughout the entire season. Wake Forest ranked 41st in EPA per play and 43rd in defensive success rate in 2019. The Deacs return ample production on the defensive side of the ball, especially along the front-seven led by senior defensive end Carlos Basham Jr. Wake Forest’s stud edge rusher finished the 2019 season with 11 sacks, which ranked 14h in the nation.
The defense should be solid, but the Deacons’ roster turnover on offense is an entirely different story. Wake’s offense returns two total starters and ranks 125th out of 130 FBS teams in offensive returning production. The Demon Deacons must replace their starting quarterback, starting tight end and all three of their top wide receivers from last season. Their most experienced returning receiver had only 249 yards in 2019.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Check out our new CFB PRO Report, where we highlight factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.
I took the under on this game when it opened at 55, and I still see value on the current number which is floating around from 54.5 to 53.5. My current threshold for playing this under would be 51.5.
NC State really struggled to move the ball last year, so the program really needed to maximize its spring practices to try to correct those shortcomings. But instead, the Wolfpack enters this game with zero spring practices under its belt, plus a shortened training camp due to a COVID-19 outbreak. On the other side, I believe Wake’s lack of continuity will continue to play a factor early in the season.
Pick: Under 53.5 (play down to 51.5).