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Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by December 2, 2021
Kenny Pickett

The No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers (10-2, 7-1 in ACC) clash with the No. 18 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-2, 7-1) in the ACC Championship Saturday at Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, North Carolina. The kickoff is 8 p.m. ET, and the game airs on ABC. Pittsburgh represents the ACC’s Coastal Division, and Wake Forest is the winner of the Atlantic division.

Pittsburgh has won four in a row after getting upset by the Miami Hurricanes on Oct. 30. Panthers senior QB Kenny Pickett leads the ACC in passer efficiency rating (166.7), passing touchdown (40), and completion rate (67.7%). Pickett expects to be one of three quarterbacks selected in the first round of the next NFL Draft. The Panthers are 9-3 against the spread (ATS) and 8-4 Over/Under (O/U) with the 72nd-toughest schedule, according to USA TODAY’s Jeff Sagarin.

Wake Forest is the highest-scoring team in the ACC, averaging 42.9 points per game (PPG) during the regular season. The Demon Deacons have alternated between winning and losing over the past five games (3-2 overall and ATS); both losses came as a road underdog. According to Sagarin, Wake Forest is 6-6 ATS and 6-6 O/U with the 64th-hardest schedule.

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Details

  • Opening Line: Pittsburgh -3
  • Current Line: Pittsburgh -3
  • Total (Over/Under): 72

Action Report

According to Pregame.com, a slight majority of the cash and nearly two-thirds of the action rides on Pittsburgh. Yet, Pittsburgh remains a field goal favorite. The Over is the preferred side of the total for the betting market. But, as with the Panthers, the total hasn’t budged off the opener.

Trends

Despite these teams being co-tenants in the ACC for decades, this is only the second meeting between these two programs. Pittsburgh won the first 34-13 back in Nov. 2018.

The Panthers have covered five of their last six games vs. teams with a winning record. But, Pittsburgh has only covered one of its past six neutral-site games.

Wake Forest hired head coach Dave Clawson in 2014. Since then, the Demon Deacons are 15-6-1 ATS vs. ranked teams, 2-3 in neutral-site games, and 36-28-1 ATS in conference play.

Handicap

Is this a trap game? This game feels like a trap game. If so, I’m trapped with Pittsburgh because the Panthers are so much more efficient than the Demon Deacons.

For instance, Pittsburgh has a plus-.227 predicted points added (PPA) differential and a plus-1.1 net yards per play. While Wake Forest has a plus-.045 PPA  differential and a plus-0.2 net yards per play. Football Outsiders rank Pittsburgh ahead of Wake Forest in net drive efficiency, net points per drive, and net points per play.

Furthermore, Pittsburgh slew a Clemson team that’s won six consecutive ACC titles and handled a North Carolina squad projected to win the Coastal division in the preseason. In contrast, Wake Forest got bludgeoned by Clemson and lost as underdogs to the Tar Heels.

Ultimately, the oddsmakers project a shootout, and I have to ride with the team that can get a stop. Yes, Wake Forest puts up 42.9 PPG, but Pittsburgh is right behind them at 42.8 PPG.

However, Pittsburgh’s defense is head and shoulders above Wake Forest’s. The Panthers’ defense ranks 19th in PPA and 41st in success rate, while the Demon Deacons rank  104th in defensive and 109th in defensive success rate.

PICK: Pittsburgh moneyline (-145 on BetMGM)

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