North Carolina State Vs. North Carolina Odds, Picks, Predictions (11/25/22)

While some deem this week as rivalry week, I’m labeling this matchup as “what could have been”. North Carolina State was a popular sleeper pick to win the ACC until Devin Leary went down with an injury while UNC shocked the nation with a near playoff appearance before embarrassingly losing to Georgia Tech. With both coming off a loss, who turns it around in the last week of the season?

North Carolina State Vs. North Carolina Odds

With projections having UNC a little over a touchdown, oddsmakers have this valued towards the Tar Heels as the current number sits at -6. This is a slight bump from the opener as UNC opened as a -4.5 favorite before quickly shooting up with expectations of a bounce back before their ACC Championship date with Clemson.

As for the total, points are expected to be put on the board as the total opened at 51 before rising up to the current number of 56. UNC fields one of the best offenses in football while also having a horrific defense, giving the opportunity for points to be scored by both teams.

North Carolina State Vs. North Carolina Prediction & Pick

The Pick: UNC -6

While I’m still dealing with the disgust of their last performance against Georgia Tech as a UNC fan, I can’t help but love backing them once again as a near touchdown favorite. This serves as the perfect tune up before they face off against Clemson in the ACC Championship as both unit’s field very good defenses.

North Carolina’s offense is more than capable of exposing the defense as this is one of the best units in football that can burn you at multiple levels. 

While NCST has the defensive capabilities of going toe to toe with the offense, they severely lack in limiting the big play which is a metric that UNC will exploit behind the rocket arm of Drake Maye. NCST currently ranks 119th in Def Rush Play Explosiveness and 104th in Def Pass Play Explosiveness.

While UNC’s defense may be incapable of stopping a middle school offense, they benefit from the unfortunate injury status of Devin Leary who has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Without Leary, the offense has become a shell of itself while barely even able to sustain drives against the likes of Louisville who they only scored 10 points against in last week’s loss.

North Carolina State Vs. North Carolina Key Matchups

Will Drake Maye be able to find success against NCST’s pass defense? How will UNC generate pressure in the backfield?

Drake Maye vs NCST pass defense

Not only did UNC blow any potential playoff chance they had should they have won out, but Drake Maye also saw his Heisman hopes evaporate behind an abysmal performance as a -21 favorite in their loss to Georgia Tech.

In an uncharacteristic performance, Maye threw for 202 passing yards and one interception with a 66.9 QBR rating. Granted he should have had a touchdown under his belt in the game winning throw that was inexcusably dropped by star receiver Josh Downs in the endzone.

Now he gets a much tougher defense that specializes in stopping standard down success and limiting gains down the field. UNC will have to make a change to their approach and go more downfield to take advantage of NCST’s lack of defensive explosiveness. 

I expect Maye to connect with Downs and company routinely via the deep ball with points on the board as they get past the 40 in large part of their elite Finishing Drives rank.

UNC defensive line vs Backup quarterback Ben Finley

While it’s never easy to replace a stud quarterback in the middle of the season, NCST has been scrambling to find a viable replacement to give them minimal production. They may have found their answer in Ben Finley who has received the starting nod after throwing for 201 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in his last game out.

He gets to go against a very bad UNC defense who have given opposing anemic offenses life with their lack of coverage. While bad, the UNC defensive line has actually been hovering around above average in pressure in the backfield. That is exactly what they will need again to disrupt the backup’s rhythm and force him into making mistakes and give their own offense more possessions to comfortably cover this spread.

Verdict

Take UNC at -6.5 or better in what will be a bounce back game before their date with Clemson.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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