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October 5, 2017

There is one pick tonight.

Take NC State +3 spread against Louisville risking 3% of the bankroll.

There is no question that much of the focus of this matchup will be the playmaking ability of Louisville's Lamar Jackson and rightfully so. Last year's Heisman winner is off to another dynamic season, completing 64 percent of his passes which is an increase from 56.2% a season ago. So far, this season he has thrown for 1,636 yards and 13 passing scores while also leading the team with 437 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 72 attempts. He is the unquestioned playmaker on this team and while his play on the field is always fun to watch, he may be in for tougher than expected match tonight against an extremely stout Wolfpack front 7, especially considering he will be without top receiver Jaylen Smith for this contest.

The NC State defense is one of the best in the nation. Defensive end Bradley Chubb is a lock for postseason All-America honors and has accumulated 12 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks through the first five games of the season. Chubb isn’t the only difference maker in the trenches for the Wolfpack. The senior duo of B.J. Hill and Justin Jones is a handful for opposing lines, with Kentavius Street and Darian Roseboro joining Chubb as threats off the edge. The Louisville offensive line has been questionable at best dating back to last season and was a big factor in the Cardinals' loss to Clemson earlier this season as well as their 3-game losing streak to end the 2016 season. If the defense can keep Jackson in the pocket and slow down Louisville’s ground attack, and get the Cardinals into long-yardage situations, that will allow Chubb, Roseboro and Street to dominate at the line of scrimmage.

While all the focus will be on Lamar Jackson and his offensive playmaking abilities, NC State is also formidable bunch on the offensive side of the ball. The Wolfpack are averaging 34.8 points per game and 5.94 yards per play. They most recently scored 27 against a loaded Florida State defense in their Sept. 23 win in Tallahassee. Quarterback Ryan Finley is quietly off to a strong start this year, as he’s completing 71.9 percent of his passes for 1,403 yards and has passed for nine scores through five games. Additionally, the junior has yet to throw an interception and has connected on seven passes of 30 or more yards in 2017. Finley has a fast release and gets rid of the ball quickly to the playmakers out in space. While Finley may not have the strongest arm in the ACC, he’s got more than enough to test the Louisville secondary downfield.

The arm of Finley isn't the only weapon at NC State's disposal as it starts in the backfield with a standout offensive line and running back Nyheim Hines, who is currently averaging 5.01 yards per rush. The Wolf Packs receiving corps is among the best in the ACC, with all-purpose utility man, Jaylen Samuels, leading the team receptions (43), receiving yardage (321) and touchdown catches (three). He has also recorded 123 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 22 attempts thus far this season. Samuels isn’t the only playmaker for Finley on the outside, as Kelvin Harmon, Stephen Louis, and Jakobi Meyers each have at least 19 catches on the season. This is an extremely dangerous NC State offense and playing at home, in front of their home crowd will surely test Louisville’s questionable secondary.

This will likely be one of the more entertaining matchups of the week as both teams are capable of pulling off big plays, however, we believe this matchup will come down to defense. Lamar Jackson will have another impressive showing in this contest, however, the defensive line of NC State will eventually take control of this game, limiting Jackson's playmaking abilities while Finley and the NC State offense methodically continue to put points on the board and outpace their opponents in the end. While Jackson will be the best player on the field, we believe NC State is the better overall team and will pull off the upset tonight at home.

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