No. 18 Wake Forest is in the ACC Championship Game for the first time in 15 years as the Demon Deacons take on No. 17 Pittsburgh from Charlotte on Saturday. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Saturday, December 4, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Bank of America Stadium
Anyone who tells you that they predicted a 2021 ACC Championship Game between Pittsburgh and Wake Forest back when the college football season kicked off is flat-out lying. ABC has the telecast, but this is going to be dwarfed by the Big Ten title game between Michigan and Iowa, which also kicks off at 8:00 p.m. EST Saturday.
The winner of the ACC title game will not be going to the playoff but most likely the Orange Bowl. Wake Forest makes its second-ever trip to the game – it beat Georgia Tech in 2006. Pittsburgh is also in it for the second time, losing in 2018 to Clemson. The Tigers won this game the previous six seasons and made the playoff in each. In fact, a team that is currently in the Atlantic Division (Clemson and Florida State) has won this game every year since 2011.
Wake Forest and Pittsburgh didn’t play this season and in fact, have met just once as ACC members: In 2018, the Panthers were 34-13 winners. Not much to take from that or any NCAAF betting trends.
Panthers’ Pickett Breaking Records
Pittsburgh (10-2) won the Coastal Division with a 7-1 league record, two up on second-place Miami. The Panthers’ lone ACC loss was to the Hurricanes and they also had a puzzling loss out of conference to MAC school Western Michigan.
Coach Pat Narduzzi’s team closed the regular season with a 31-14 win at Syracuse on Saturday. QB Kenny Pickett, who might win ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors and perhaps be the first quarterback chosen in the 2022 NFL Draft, threw for 4 TD passes vs. the Orange. He finished the regular season with 4,066 yards and a school record of 40 TD passes.
Remember, Dan Marino played at Pitt. He originally set the record with 37 in 1981 and it was tied in 2003 by Rod Rutherford. The ACC record is 41 by Deshaun Watson in 2016.
Pickett has thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season, a first for a Pitt quarterback. He is the third QB in ACC history to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 40 TDs, joining Jameis Winston in 2013 and Watson in 2016. With 12,050 career passing yards, he is second in ACC history behind only Philip Rivers, who threw for 13,484 yards at NC State from 2000-03.
Jordan Addison is one of the nation’s top receivers and had two TD catches vs. Syracuse and a national-best 17 on the second, second-most both Pitt and ACC history for a single season. The ACC mark is 18 by DeAndre Hopkins in 2012 for Clemson while the Pitt record is 22 by Larry Fitzgerald in 2003 when the Panthers were still in the Big East.
Addison’s 85 catches are 13th in the nation and his 1,353 yards fourth. He’s a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.
The Panthers’ seven conference wins are the most for the school in program history regardless of the league and Pitt won 10 regular-season games for the first time since the 1981 season. The Panthers were 5-0 on the road. Pitt has the nation’s No. 4 scoring offense at 42.8 points per contest. The Panthers trail only Ohio State (45.5), Western Kentucky (43.2), and Wake Forest (42.9).
Narduzzi is a defensive-minded coach and Pitt is 21-1 under him all-time when it has at least five sacks. This year, that record is 6-0. Pitt ranks 12th nationally and first in the ACC with three defensive TDs this season. Under Narduzzi, the Panthers are 10-4 when scoring a defensive touchdown.
Pittsburgh is 1-5 against the spread at the NCAAF odds in its past seven neutral-site games.
Deacons Having Best Season Ever
Wake Forest (10-2) won the Atlantic Division with a 7-1 record, a game up on NC State and Clemson. Wake’s lone ACC loss was against the Tigers. Coach Dave Clawson has worked a minor miracle at the small school to the point he was rumored for the LSU job but has since signed a big extension. Clawson is in his eighth year with the Demon Deacons and has a 49-47 record in that span.
The Deacons clinched a spot in this game with Saturday’s 41-10 win at Boston College. Sam Hartman, who probably will get some ACC Offensive Player of the Year votes himself, threw for 236 yards and three scores and rushed for a TD. While Pickett won’t be back next season, Hartman should be as a sophomore. His 3,711 passing yards are a school record as are his 34 TD passes.
Wake receiver A.T. Perry broke the school record for touchdown receptions in a season with 13 as he hauled in a pair Saturday. He finished the regular season with 56 catches for 1,11 yards and those 13 TDs, while Jaquarii Roberson had 62 catches for 1,024 yards and eight scores. They are one of just two duos nationally to rank in the Top 40 in receiving touchdowns and Top 30 in receiving yards.
Clawson’s team ranks third nationally with 515 points scored this season, a school record, and only the third ACC school to reach that mark. This is only the second time in program history that Wake has won double-digit games and the first time it won seven league games. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks Warren Ruggiero was named as one of five finalists for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach.
This should be a wildly entertaining game and Wake should have the fan advantage with the game in nearby Charlotte. I’m surprised the Deacons are getting points. We’ll take them for our college football picks.
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