North Carolina Tar Heels Vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (12/30/21)
Both North Carolina and South Carolina find themselves at 6-6 at the end of the season, but they will undoubtedly have different outlooks on that result. The Tar Heels had their eyes set on the ACC Championship game, and finishing here is a massive disappointment, while Shane Beamer will be excited to get the Gamecocks to a Bowl Game in his first season as head coach. South Carolina had some impressive wins over Florida and Auburn down the stretch, but Clemson also shut them out in their final game of the season. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, haven’t won back-to-back games since September. Neither team carries significant momentum into this game, so we’ll have to look elsewhere for differentiating factors.
North Carolina Tar Heels Vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Betting Odds
North Carolina Tar Heels Betting Odds
After ranking 10th in the preseason Associated Press poll, North Carolina faltered this season and finished just 6-6 and 3-5 in ACC games. Sam Howell had a decent season, although perhaps it was not as impressive as many expected. He now ends his career the way it started as he defeated the Gamecocks in his first career start for UNC. Howell didn’t have the services of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter this season, but Ty Chandler picked up the slack in the run game and finished with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns. Howell had 34 total touchdowns this year (23 passing, 11 rushing), and the fringe first-round NFL prospect will hope to put together one more strong game of film to boost his draft stock.
Defensively, UNC struggled mightily this season, and their 101st ranked scoring defense (31.6 points per game allowed) held back the team all year. Myles Murphy was the only Tar Heel nominated to either the First-Team or Second-Team All-ACC, and his 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks were not impressive on the surface. Besides having one of the best names in college football, cornerback Storm Duck is the only defensive player on the team who is listed on PFF’s NFL Draft Big Board Top 100. Luckily for UNC, its defense may not have to do too much as South Carolina’s offense has struggled this year.
South Carolina Gamecocks Betting Odds
There is plenty of buzz and excitement surrounding the South Carolina program following their impressive wins over Florida and Auburn in a year of outproducing expectations. Still, the current iteration of the Gamecocks’ offense is problematic. South Carolina ranked just 109th in the country with 21.3 points per game. Three different quarterbacks attempted at least 90 passes this season, and none performed exceptionally well. Zaquandre White led the team with 779 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns, but it was difficult to pinpoint any consistent skill position players for this group all year. Spencer Rattler, who is transferring from Oklahoma, will make a massive difference for this team at quarterback next season. For now, it isn’t easy to expect much scoring out of this group.
This season, South Carolina has survived on its defense as its offense has been minimalized, and it’s especially done so on the back of turnovers. This season, the Gamecocks have forced 24 turnovers, ranking first in the SEC and 12th nationally. The team’s ability to generate turnovers and give a limited offense short fields to work with will be integral to their ability to compete in this game. The Gamecocks allowed 24.2 points per game, ranking 46th in the country and 38th in Football Outsiders’ FEI metric, which measures defensive efficiency. Kingsley Enagbare led the team with 4.5 sacks, but he has opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. He is expected to be in consideration for a first-round pick, and his absence will be difficult for the Gamecocks’ pass-rush to overcome.
North Carolina Tar Heels Vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Picks & Prediction
Mack Brown holds a 2-3 career record against the Gamecocks, but it seems likely he will bring that record to an even .500 by the time bowl season is over. Sam Howell has one more opportunity to close his collegiate career with a win before he heads to the NFL, and you can bet he will be anxious to do so after this season didn’t quite go according to plan. South Carolina is on the rise as a program, and Shane Beamer deserves a ton of credit for the work he did in his first season as head coach to get the team here. However, the Gamecocks are at an obvious talent disadvantage, particularly with Enagbare opting out of this game. I’m backing the Tar Heels to win and cover, and I have a slight lean on the under. However, my favorite bet is on the Gamecocks to finish with under 23.5 points, as they have surpassed that line just twice all season.
My Prediction: UNC wins 34-20, UNC covers, under 57.5 points