North Carolina vs. South Carolina kicks off this Saturday at 7:30pm EST in Charlotte as a neutral site game at Bank of America Stadium — home of the Carolina Panthers. North Carolina is currently a -2.5 favorite with -130 odds on the moneyline. The total for the game is set at 64.5. Read on for more North Carolina vs. South Carolina best bets and predictions as the Tar Heels look to start their season out on the right foot.
North Carolina Vs. South Carolina Prediction & Best Bet
If you were to tier the ACC this season, most people would put Clemson and Florida State in tier one while UNC sits at tier two. UNC sits right under the two elites in large part of their defense, a unit that ranked near dead last in Def Success Rate and Def Havoc. The offense could only carry them so far, eventually getting outdone late in the season when their offensive production took a drastic halt.
While UNC’s number one ranked Def Returning Production isn’t a guarantee that the defense will suddenly turn it around, it is a sign of potential improvement. Any sort of improvement on that end will go a long way as it was the clear weakness for the Tar Heels last season, constantly allowing opponents in the game by keeping pace with UNC’s scoring.
Lucky for the Tar Heels, the Gamecocks offense is middling at best as they struggled with consistency. It’s boom or bust with quarterback Spencer Rattler under center as he was routinely asked to make the big play behind a weak offensive line. Relying on explosiveness is not an ideal strategy for the long term, especially when the Tar Heels excelled at limiting the big gain by ranking 32nd in Def Explosiveness.
With North Carolina being in a good position to limit the Gamecocks down field progression, this limits South Carolina’s scoring chances and gives the Tar Heels offense more opportunities to put this away. Even with continuity at nearly every level of the defense, it’s still expected that this unit is middling at best and will once again need the offense to carry them to success.
North Carolina Vs. South Carolina Odds
Even with continuity on both ends of the field, oddsmakers still think this will be a tight contest as they opened the Tar Heels as a -2 favorite. Bettors slightly lean towards the Tar Heels favor as they have bet them up to -2.5. Their defense should slightly improve heading into this year, as well as take advantage of a weak Gamecock Off Success Rate.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a blistering pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 62.5. Bettors were quick to back the over, taking the number up to as high as 64.5 as of writing. This comes as a bit of a surprise as North Carolina’s offense is expected to slow down under their new OC, as well as improve on the defensive end.
North Carolina Vs. South Carolina Key Matchups
Can Drake Maye continue to dominate in North Carolina’s new look offense? How does SC’s ground game look with the departure of MarShawn Lloyd?
Drake Maye Heisman Campaign
While the offensive end for North Carolina also returns a good amount of production, their identity will take a drastic change under new OC Chip Lindsey. Gone are the days of Phil Longo’s hyper paced offense, now revolving around a slower play rate and more balance between the pass and ground game.
Heisman Trophy Odds heading into Week 1 of CFB:
Caleb Williams: +500
Jayden Daniels +1000
Quinn Ewers +1100
Drake Maye +1400
Jordan Travis +1400
Michael Penix Jr. +1400
Cade Klubnik +1400
Bo Nix +1600 pic.twitter.com/68xT7AxwR5
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) August 28, 2023
Sometimes less is more as an established ground game will open up more passing windows for star quarterback Drake Maye. Defenses were wise to drop more players back in coverage to limit Maye’s looks, drastically halting the UNC offense late in the season.
UNC should have no issue with finding success on the ground against South Carolina as they ranked near dead last in Def Rush Success Rate and Def Rush PPA. With SC’s second level forced to respect the run and not cheat by dropping back, Maye should continue to dominate the air by picking apart the newfound openings.
Juju McDowell vs UNC Rush Defense
As Spencer Rattler continues to regress, the Gamecocks become more dependent on their ground game to help open up the rest of the offense. With MarShawn Lloyd departing for USC, the Gamecocks lose a big chunk of their rushing production. This forces Juju McDowell into a larger role after finishing last season with a lowly 219 yards and two touchdowns on 62 carries.
With the Gamecocks offensive line still expected to struggle generating a push back into UNC’s second level, the ground game will be in a less than ideal position to succeed.