No. 24 Pitt hosts Wolfpack eyeing first 4-0 start since 2000

North Carolina State (1-1, 1-1 ACC) at No. 24 Pittsburgh (3-0, 2-0), Saturday at noon ET (ACC Network).

Line: Pitt by 14.

Series record: Pitt leads 5-4-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Panthers are looking for their first 4-0 start since 2000. The defense has lived up to the preseason hype, overwhelming each of its first three opponents. If the offense can find even a bit of consistency, Pitt should be in every game this season. The Wolfpack looked ill-prepared last week in a loss to a depleted Virginia Tech. A second straight lopsided loss to a ranked opponent would do little to quell concerns about the program trending downwards.

KEY MATCHUP

N.C. State’s offensive line vs. Pitt’s defensive line: The Panthers may have one of the most formidable defensive fronts in the country. Pitt has already racked up 17 sacks through three weeks, with defensive ends Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones II collecting 3 1/2 sacks each.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

N.C. State: RB Ricky Person Jr. Zonovan Knight and Person have formed a strong 1-2 punch for the Wolfpack on the ground. Person led the way in the season-opening win against Wake Forest with 99 yards and two scores while also throwing a jump-pass TD, then had 64 yards and a score at Virginia Tech.

Pitt: WR Jordan Addison. The freshman is off to a white-hot start. He has 21 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns so far, showing flashes of both speed and toughness along the way. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple is finding ways to get Addison in space and Addison’s versatility and hands make him a tough cover.

FACTS & FIGURES

After starting the season 6 for 6 on third-down conversions, N.C. State has converted 5 of 23 since. … N.C. State has lost four of five ACC road games by at least 18 points since the start of the 2019 season. … This is only the second time the teams have played since Pitt joined the ACC for the 2013 season. … Pitt’s 26 ACC wins in head Pat Narduzzi’s five-plus seasons rank third in the ACC over that span. … The Panthers have allowed just 3 points in the second half this season. … Pitt is second in the country in total defense and rushing defense and third in passing defense. … The Panthers have collected six interceptions this season. They managed just nine in 13 games in 2019.

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