The Louisville Cardinals and North Carolina State Wolfpack both
ended their regular seasons with hot runs at the college football betting
windows, combining for a 12-3-1 spread record in each squad’s last eight
College football’s postseason slate has the foes matched up in the
10th annual Belk Bowl, taking place at Charlotte’s Bank of America
Stadium on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Sportsbooks opened North Carolina State as a 1 ½-point favorite on
Dec. 5, while first setting the ‘total’ at 45 ½. Early betting action on
the Wolfpack and ‘under’ shifted the spread to 2 ½ and the total to 44 ½.
Cardinals’ scoring surges in final stretch
Louisville notched a sizable 35.3 PPG in its final three road
games, leading to outright wins as an underdog against the West Virginia
Mountaineers, Connecticut Huskies and South Florida Bulls. Charlie
Strong’s squad picked up its scoring compared to its prior trio of contests
away from home, logging 15.7 PPG against the Kentucky Wildcats, North Carolina
Tar Heels and Cincinnati Bearcats.
The Cardinals rallied from a 17-3 deficit in their finale against
South Florida on Nov. 25, cashing with a 34-24 win as a 5 ½-point dog in the college football odds.
Louisville controlled the ball for 36 minutes, while its defense held the Bulls
to 4-of-15 third down conversions.
Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater tossed three touchdowns,
connecting 19-of-28 passes for 241 yards. Bridgewaters’ backfield mate
Dominique Brown logged 21 carries, dashing for 69 yards.
Louisville’s victory capped off going 6-0 ATS in its six road
affairs, while the contest’s combined 58 points lifted the ‘over’ to a 3-2-1
mark in that span.
Wolfpack sees home-road disparity
North Carolina State notched two straight home wins to finish out
its regular season, cashing as a 7 ½-point dog in a 37-13 triumph against the
Clemson Tigers and as 11 ½-point ‘chalk’ in a 56-41 shootout against the
Maryland Terrapins. The Wolfpack had not fared as well in its two most
recent road battles, losing to the Boston College Eagles and Florida State
Seminoles by a combined margin of 48-10.
Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon threw five touchdowns in the
team’s finale against Maryland, while taking in a sixth himself. The
senior led his squad to a monumental fourth comeback, closing the battle with
42 unanswered points after trailing, 41-14.
Glennon’s favorite targets were tight end George Bryan and
halfback Tony Creecy, who caught eight passes each. Creecy added 49
rushing yards on 14 carries, while mate James Washington dashed for 90 yards
out of the backfield.
North Carolina State went 1-4 ATS in its five road duels, with the
‘under’ going 4-1. Tom O’Brien’s squad notched 15.8 PPG in that span,
while allowing 28 PPG.
Back the Cardinals as short dogs
The Belk Bowl’s kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET), with ESPN
providing the national television coverage. Last year’s battle in
Charlotte saw South Florida edge out Clemson, 31-26, with the matchup’s
combined 57 points leaping ‘over’ its ‘total’ of 40 ½.
This handicapper is backing Louisville in this year’s affair,
taking the points in his college football picks. The Cardinals’ performance in road games down the
stretch is hard to ignore heading into this matchup, while a month off for both
foes should cool down North Carolina State’s fire power.
Bridgewater finished the season with a 136.1 passer rating for
Louisville, ranking him third among the Big East Conference’s signal
callers. The Miami native led his rivals in completion percentage,
connecting 66 percent of his passes, with 7.3 YPA.
North Carolina State’s offense mustered a meager 346.2 YPG,
ranking Glennon and Co. 11th out of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s
12 squads. Glennon has tossed a sizable eight interceptions over the
team’s last four road games.
The Wolfpack are 1-7 ATS in their last eight spots as a favorite
of three points or less, while Louisville has a 12-1 spread mark in its last 13
battles against Atlantic Coast Conference foes. Look for the Cardinals to
squeak out a win here, adding a second straight bowl victory following last
year’s 31-28 triumph in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl against the Southern
Mississippi Golden Eagles.