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North Carolina vs Pittsburgh College Football Prediction

Two of college footballs most surprising teams that have not been talked about much to this point will have the spotlight to themselves in the Thursday Night Football North Carolina-Pitt game.

ESPN will televise the TNF North Carolina-Pitt game from Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. Eastern, and first place in the Coastal Division of the ACC will be on the line. Both North Carolina and Pittsburgh are undefeated in ACC play thus far, and both teams are 6-1 on the season.

Under new coach Pat Narduzzi, Pitt has been brilliant in close games, going 5-1 in games decided by eight points or less. And the Panthers have won back to back games against ACC opponents by a field goal, both on the road.

Entering the North Carolina-Pitt game, the Tar Heels havent had to worry much about close games. After a season-opening 17-13 loss against South Carolina, North Carolina has rattled off six straight wins, only one of which was decided by as few as seven points, a 38-31 win against Georgia Tech.

Both North Carolina and Pitt have improved their defensive prowess in 2015. Narduzzi of Pitt has been the highly successful defensive coordinator of Michigan State the past several seasons, and he has brought his schemes to Pittsburgh with plenty of success to this point. The Panthers rank 16th nationally in total defense at 308 yards allowed per game and 33rd in scoring defense at 21.6 points allowed per game. Pitt also ranks 15th nationally by allowing 174.6 passing yards a game.

Gene Chizik is the new North Carolina defensive coordinator, after successful stints as a defensive coordinator at Auburn and Texas, and he also won a national championship as Auburns head coach in the 2010 season. The Tar Heels rank 16th nationally in scoring defense at 16.7 points allowed per game, 36th in total defense at 350 yards allowed per game, and second in passing yards allowed per game at 138.1.

Both North Carolina and Pitt have improved on where they ranked last season on defense, especially the Tar Heels, where the turnaround under Chizik has been completely amazing. The 2014 defensive rankings were 118th in total defense, 108th in passing defense, and 119th in scoring defense for North Carolina. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was 20th in total defense, 20th in passing defense, and 56th in scoring defense in 2014, which means the Panthers have also made improvements this season on defense, although nowhere near the degree of improvement by North Carolina.