UNC Football: Tar Heels vs. Pittsburgh Panthers preview, TV, live stream, odds

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

UNC football heads north coming off their bye week still looking for their second win of the season. Can they get it against ACC foe Pittsburgh?

It’s oddly fitting that this Carolina team is squeezing in one last game before basketball season starts. UNC football has always taken a backseat to the basketball team, but this year they will be forgotten entirely. When the ball tips on Friday night in the Dean Dome and the UNC basketball team begins their National Title defense, this one-win disappointment will be a distant memory. Can the Heels steal one on the road from Pittsburgh before they are cast back into obscurity until next fall?

Larry Fedora and the Heels (1-8, 0-5 ACC) are staring down the barrel at the strong possibility of a winless ACC season. This is the best shot they have left. The Heels close with their home finale against Western Carolina and a short trip down I-40 to Carter-Finley to end the year.

Holding an undefeated Miami team to a 24-19 win would seem to be a moral victory in this nightmare season for the Heels. They did so with their third-string quarterback, Nathan Elliott, and his three interceptions and a soul-crushing fumble from Jordon Brown to end their fourth-quarter upset threat. Chazz Surratt is presumably back under center on Thursday night, but Fedora continues to guard his depth chart like its the nuclear codes.  Anthony Ratliff-Williams is somehow the best passer on this team along with being the leading receiver and returner. So much for Brandon Harris being the Marquise Williams to Surratt’s Mitch Trubisky, huh?

Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-3)  has to have this game if they are going to go to their 10th straight bowl game. The Panthers finish with a game at Virginia Tech and Miami at home. So, a win over Carolina gives them a shot to back into a bowl via their Academic Progress Rate even with losses as a presumptive big underdog in their last two games.

Here’s how you can watch Thursday’s North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Pittsburgh Panthers game:

Date: Thursday, Nov. 9
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Venue: Heinz Field
Live Stream: WatchESPN

NEXT: 30 for 30 “Nature Boy” Packed With Dramatic Flair

The Panthers are 9-point favorites. Even with how bad the Heels have been, this still feels a bit high. Pittsburgh is third to last in the ACC in points per game and points allowed. Carolina is second to last and last in those categories. However, John Papuchis’ defense showed signs of life against Miami. If he took the bye week and built upon that and the defense plays with the same effort, there is no reason they can’t stymie a bad offense.

This game has recently been a shootout with UNC football coming out on top, including last year’s 37-36 thriller in Chapel Hill. This year it looks like a slog that stays close enough and under the 50-point total.

Prediction:  Pittsburgh 24, Carolina 17