Oregon vs. North Carolina: Predictions, Odds, Picks For Holiday Bowl (12/28/22)
Amid a slew of opt-outs and transfers during bowl season, the Holiday Bowl presents the rare matchup of two big-name quarterbacks – Bo Nix and Drake Maye will both be on the field when Oregon and North Carolina kick off in San Diego. With two powerful offenses and a slew of transfers/opt-outs on the Tar Heels’ defense, these two teams might be poised for one of the highest-scoring bowls of the year.
Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for Wednesday’s Holiday Bowl.
Oregon vs. North Carolina Odds
Oregon enters as a heavy 14.5-point favorite, sitting at -580 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 73.5 points.
This line would look dramatic in the regular season, but North Carolina’s already shaky defense has become even more depleted by offseason moves. It’s a near guarantee that Oregon is going to put up a boatload of points. With that being said, Oregon scores a huge number of points regardless of the opponent. The burning question going into this game is whether Drake Maye can put up the kind of offense he did across the first nine games of the season. If so, this can be a very competitive game.
Oregon vs. North Carolina Prediction & Pick
Drake Maye is an ultra-talented quarterback, but he disappeared down the stretch. He was responsible for losses to Georgia Tech, NC State, and Clemson. UNC’s defense can’t be blamed for those. I’m concerned about how he’ll perform on this stage, with even less help from his defense and a month of endless speculation about whether he’d enter his name into the transfer portal. Maye also won’t have Josh Downs, who was a massive part of UNC’s offense this past season.
I’d feel more comfortable if the line were under two touchdowns, but it feels like oddsmakers are begging bettors to take the bait on the Tar Heels as a significant underdog. I won’t do it. Oregon has made a habit of blowing teams out this season, and North Carolina doesn’t have anything close to the defense of the Oregon State team that beat the Ducks at the end of the regular season. With a depleted UNC secondary, Bo Nix should be able to take advantage and score points all night.
Oregon did lose two key defensive starters in Christian Gonzalez and Noah Sewell, who are both off to the NFL Draft. If the Tar Heels cover, it’ll be because Maye played more like he did early in the season and less like he did down the stretch. It’s not impossible with the defense he’s facing, but Oregon’s offense is much better suited for success.
Oregon vs. North Carolina Key Matchups
It’s going to take a heroic performance for Drake Maye to win this one. With no Josh Downs and not much of a running game in place, Maye will have to dig deep and find what made him so successful over the first nine games of the season. Not facing Christian Gonzalez in the secondary will help, but the back end of Oregon’s defense isn’t as thin as North Carolina’s.
A more formidable running game would make the Tar Heels’ offense more intimidating. Maye was their leading rusher this season, and RB Elijah Green was inefficient down the stretch with three of his last four games under four yards per carry. The absence of Sewell could certainly help, considering Oregon’s run defense was top-30 in the nation this season.
Oregon’s offense has the balance North Carolina’s has often lacked. While Nix’s progress as a passer was evident in 2022, the running game helped keep the Ducks’ offense moving as well. Nix was a major part of that. An ankle injury limited his mobility down the stretch, but he should be a bit healthier after the month off. Oregon is 14th in the nation with more than 212 rushing yards per game, thanks to a few key players in the backfield.
Between a strong running game and a solid passing offense that has a very favorable matchup against North Carolina’s thin secondary, Oregon is the reason why the over/under is set so high.