While the betting markets and college FPI often have similar opinions about the odds of many college football games, every week there are a few cases where ESPN's model starkly disagrees with Vegas. Each week, we'll dive into what is causing that difference. (All lines are from the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.)
Vegas line: Cardinals by 3.5
FPI prediction: Wolfpack by 3.9
Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph leads all FBS quarterbacks in clutch-weighted expected points added per game in 2017.
Guess who ranks second?
NC State's Ryan Finley.
We talk a lot about efficiency in this space. And Finley has been efficient -- he ranks seventh in Total QBR, a rate statistic, this season. But efficiency combined with high usage is the best formula for success, and it's exactly what Finley brings to the table. The Wolfpack's quarterback has more action plays than all of the quarterbacks above him in the QBR rankings.
Oh, and Finley has thrown 257 pass attempts since his last interception, the third-longest streak in ACC history. Louisville's pass defense isn't atrocious but ranks 44th in expected points added (EPA) per game. That's right in the same ballpark as Syracuse (47th) and Florida State (42nd), two teams NC State has already beaten.
Louisville gets more attention than the Wolfpack because it has a star quarterback in Lamar Jackson and is ranked higher in the AP poll, though FPI quibbles with that ranking. Our model actually puts NC State slightly ahead of Louisville, so it's no wonder the Wolfpack are favored by a few points given that they are at home.