Twice in as many weeks, the Virginia Cavaliers have gotten off to encouraging starts, even beating James Madison by two possessions heading into the fourth quarter two weeks ago. And twice in as many weeks, Virginia squandered that potential — squandered it thoroughly. Now it faces the North Carolina State Wolfpack, better than both those last two Cavaliers’ opponents, particularly on defense.
Will Virginia be able to score enough to keep up with a 9.5-point college football odds spread and Wolfpack quarterback Brennan Armstrong?
Find out in our free college football picks and predictions for North Carolina State vs. Virginia on September 22.
NC State vs Virginia best odds
NC State vs Virginia picks and predictions
Virginia jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Maryland last Friday night, mostly because of a pair of trick plays. The Cavaliers ran a flea-flicker on their first snap from scrimmage, freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea completing it for a 49-yard gain to the 16-yard line. Two plays later, a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Virginia’s next possession ended with a 19-yard touchdown on a risky throwback wheel route, a tough pass from any quarterback, let alone a freshman quarterback. And a 14-0 lead.
Having emptied the wild pages of the playbook, the Cavaliers didn’t produce anything else against Maryland. They gained 210 yards on their next 52 plays, excluding an abridged drive before halftime. They ended the game with four straight turnovers; either Colandrea too inexperienced to play from behind, or the team not skilled enough to avoid taking unnecessary risks in that scenario. Most likely, both.
It ‘s going to be an ugly season for Virginia — that 42-0 conclusion to that 42-14 loss serving as dramatic proof of the coming misery.
Next up, NC State, with an even better defense. Maryland’s is only a middling defense, above average against the pass, and one of the 40-worst teams in the country against the run, based on expected points added per rush against, per cfb-graphs.com. The Wolfpack is a bit worse against the run, but it is elite against the pass, in the Top 15 in the country.
It was no accident that those two Cavaliers’ explosive plays that put the Terrapins on their heels were both passes. Virginia has no tenable rushing attack. So, North Carolina State being weak in that regard is not a concern for the Wolfpack this week. The only item of note is how much its defensive line should hassle Colandrea into a handful of mistakes again.
With those gimmicks now on film, Virginia will struggle to score any points against one of the better defenses — especially one of the best pass defenses — in the ACC. It may, in fact, gift North Carolina State a few short fields, and those will be all that is needed to cover a spread of fewer than 10 points.
My best bet: North Carolina State -9.5 (-110 at Caesars)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
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NC State vs Virginia same-game parlay
As long as this spread stays short of 10 points, North Carolina State should have no trouble covering it. Most of that certainty can be credited to the Wolfpack defense. More precisely, to its defensive line. And as Virginia’s roster thins and its program woes become more and more apparent, quality defensive lines will feast against its offensive line. (Take note of back-to-back late October trips to North Carolina and Miami.)
The Cavaliers did manage 35 points against James Madison, but the Dukes have one of the 25 worst defenses in the country when pondering success rate. Their pass defense is atrocious, and as previously established, pass defense is the only defense needed against Virginia.
A team total as lofty as 19.5 will not be available for long with the Cavaliers. Once they are thoroughly shut down a few more times, adding distance from that meager success against James Madison, bookmakers will set that number far lower in the future. Soon enough, it will top out at 16.5. Right now, anything north of 17 is found money.
If interception props were more readily available, betting on Colandrea to throw at least one would be logical. But without them, place some belief in North Carolina State veteran Brennan Armstrong. When the Wolfpack is struggling in the trenches, he resorts to running, 18 times against Connecticut and 10 times against Notre Dame (sacks adjusted).
When North Carolina State is winning up front, Armstrong takes his time to find his receivers, throwing for an average of 262 yards the last two weeks. Virginia has no unit that can compete with the Wolfpack, particularly not where physicality matters most. Losing the line of scrimmage when Armstrong is behind center will reveal itself in how long he can take to find his unproven receivers.
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NC State vs Virginia spread and Over/Under analysis
North Carolina State opened as a 10-point favorite on Sunday, coming off its rout of FCS-level VMI. That nearly immediately fell to -9 before bumping to -10 for a few more moments on Sunday and has flirted with it again toward the end of the week, but -9.5 remains the consensus.
The total opened at 47.5 before falling to 45.5 on Sunday and hanging out there into Monday before ticking back up to 47.5 during the week. Assume that relatively low total reflects the poor quality of Virginia’s offense, though its shoddy defense has compelled the Cavaliers to three Overs in three games this season.
NC State vs Virginia betting trend to know
The Cavaliers are 5-8 against the spread under head coach Tony Elliott, now in the first month of his second season. Find more college football betting trends for NC State vs Virginia.
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NC State vs Virginia game info
|Location:||Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA|
|Date:||Friday, September 22, 2023|
|Kickoff:||7:30 p.m. ET|
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