Free TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Prediction: NC State Wolfpack vs. Kentucky Wildcats Odds
Looking for NC State Wolfpack vs. Kentucky Wildcats free picks? 2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl betting sees the Wolfpack taking on the Wildcats on Saturday, January 2nd at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Cappers Picks provides complimentary handicapping picks all NCAA football season long so stay tuned for more FREE college football bowl game predictions like this NC State – Kentucky TaxSlayer Gator Bowl free pick.
College Football Handicapping: 2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
(8-3) NC State Wolfpack vs. Kentucky Wildcats (4-6)
Date: Saturday, January 2nd, 2021
Time: 12:00 pm EST
Venue: TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida
NCAA Football Spread: Kentucky -2.5
NCAA Betting Total: 50.5
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The Kentucky Wildcats will be hosting the 22nd-ranked NC State Wolfpack in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on January, 2nd at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. This will be Kentucky’s fifth consecutive bowl appearance, while the Wolfpack will competing in their sixth bowl game in eight years.
NC State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak and will try to extend it to five with a win in the Gator Bowl. After finishing 4-8 last season, head coach Dave Doeren managed to double his team’s win total in 2020 despite losing quarterback Devin Leary to injury. The Wolfpack finished with just one regular-season conference win in 2019 but set a program-record with seven ACC wins this year.
Most people thought that NC State would fall off once they lost Sophomore QB Devin Leary to a season-ending injury, but Bailey Hockman has stepped right in and brought the Wolfpack their best winning percentage since 2002. Hockman finished the year playing in nine games this season throwing for 1,820 yards to go along with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He led the NC State offense to the 43rd best scoring mark in the country with 31.1 points per game.
Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight highlight a two-headed backfield for the Wolfpack. They have combined for 1638 yards from scrimmage and 13 TDs for State. Senior Emeka Emezie is an NFL-ready wideout who leads the Pack in receiving. He has amassed 694 yards this season to go along with five scores. Emezie is 4th in the ACC in yards per catch with 16.5 among wide receivers with at least 30 receptions this season.
On defense, NC State has surrendered 29.7 points and 418.2 yards of total offense per contest. The Wolfpack will have their run defense tested against a Kentucky run game that ranks 46th in the country in total yards. In 11 games this season, the Wolfpack have allowed an average of 163.5 yards per game, which is ranked 65th in the FBS.
Even with a 4-6 regular-season record, the Wildcats were rewarded with a bowl game berth this season with a bunch of other teams declining to play. Mark Stoops is the first head coach in Kentucky history to be invited to five consecutive bowl games. His record over that span is 2-2 and has a chance to get over .500 with a win over the Wolfpack on Saturday.
Last week, Kentucky hired Los Angeles Rams’ QB coach Liam Coen to be the team’s new offensive coordinator. However, Coen and newly-hired offensive line coach, Eric Wolford, will not be coaching in the bowl game due to the NFL season being ongoing.
On offense, the Wildcats are led by Senior QB Terry Wilson. Wilson has dealt with injuries for the past few seasons and still doesn’t look healthy this year. Terry has thrown for 1092 passing yards this season while rushing for another 410. He has a 7:4 TD to INT ratio while passing but also found the endzone five times with his legs. The Wildcats come in averaging only 21.7 points which is 107th in the FBS and 311.8 yards (117th out of 127) of total offense per game.
Defensively, Kentucky comes in allowing 26.4 points and 387 yards of total offense per contest. The Wildcats have been especially tight against the pass, ranking them 48th in the country surrendering just 220.3 yards per game.
NCAA Football Handicapping Trends
- North Carolina State is 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games.
- The total has gone OVER in 10 of North Carolina State’s last 15 games.
- North Carolina State is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games.
- North Carolina State is 7-2 SU in their last 9 games this season.
- Kentucky is 2-4 SU in their last 6 games.
- The total has gone OVER in 6 of Kentucky’s last 8 games against an opponent in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
- Kentucky is 2-4 SU in their last 6 games played on a Saturday.
Free TaxSlayer Gator Bowl NCAA Football Pick:
I love the over 50.5 to hit in this game. NC State is giving up 29.7 points per game and over 400 yards of offense per game. Also, the Wildcats surrender just under 400 yards a game, so points should come in bunches.
4* Free NCAA Betting Pick: Over 50.5
Kentucky should not have any trouble moving the ball against this Wolfpack defense. NC State is surrendering 163.5 yards on the ground per game this season, and when they face a rushing attack within the top 50 in the FBS they surrender over 250+ rushing yards per game. Kentucky has been very good against intermediate passes but when you can stretch the field vertically against them they have a hard time defending the long ball. Bailey Hockman has 12+ completions over 20 yards this season, which is fourth in the ACC behind Trevor Lawerence, Sam Hartman, and Sam Howell.
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