Pitt currently checks into this game as a 2 1/12 point underdog against North Carolina. It is a pivotal game for both sides and a game that could very well decide the ACC Coastal champion. Both teams come into this game with 6-1 records and unblemished marks within the conference. Also, each team is flying under the national radar, North Carolina more so than Pitt, as they have yet to check into the national rankings while Pitt cracked into the top 25 last week.
Pitt and North Carolina have played two competitive games since being conference mates, but it has been the Tar Heels that have come out on top in both meetings. Pitt managed to find ways to lose those games late, and unlike the previous two seasons, the Panthers have been finding ways to win close games in the final period this year.
A lot of this game will be about which opposing defense is truly improved. Gene Chizik has done some things to improve the Carolina defense overall, but they still struggle against the run. If you recall last season, James Conner had a mammoth performance against the Tar Heels. Pitt's rushing offense lost Conner, but they still pack enough punch to cause concern for the Tar Heels.
North Carolina's Marquise Williams is a dynamic quarterback that has given Pitt problems the past two seasons. Obviously the story with Pitt this year is the improved defense by Pat Narduzzi and Josh Conklin. The personnel remains mostly the same, but it seems the coaching has made a serious difference. It sounds cliche, but the team that plays the better defense should win this game.
Look, both teams are 6-1 and that's certainly an accomplishment. Still, neither team has a signature win or anything to prove to be in the talk among the best teams in college football. A win here could propel the one team into the discussion and put them a leg up in the Coastal standings. In other words, this is a huge game.
The point spread is pretty low, and it's a tough one for me to call. All four of Pitt's ACC wins have been close and have come down to a late field goal and a big defensive stop, and I assume if Pitt is going to win this game it will come in similar fashion. If you trust Narduzzi and buy the hype about this team, taking Pitt here is a good call. If you are still skeptical and have your concerns about Marquise Williams and North Carolina's athletic offense, the Tar Heels wouldn't be the wrong pick. I can see this one going either way, but I am picking Pitt personally. What about you?