North Carolina vs. NC State Odds, Picks and Predictions: Your College Football Betting Guide for Friday’s ACC In-State Rivalry Game (Nov. 26)

North Carolina vs. NC State Odds, Picks and Predictions: Your College Football Betting Guide for Friday’s ACC In-State Rivalry Game (Nov. 26) article feature image

Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ricky Person Jr.

  • The North Carolina Tar Heels and NC State Wolfpack kick off their annual ACC in-state rivalry game on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
  • For NC State (-5.5) fans and futures bettors, Friday's matchup is enormous: A win keeps the Wolfpack's chances alive to represent the ACC Atlantic in the conference championship.
  • Will the Tar Heels play spoiler in Raleigh, or can the Wolfpack rise to the challenge against their bitter rivals? Read on for updated odds, plus our picks and predictions for UNC vs. NC State.

North Carolina vs. NC State Odds

Friday, Nov. 26
7 p.m. ET
North Carolina Odds
-114o / -106u
NC State Odds
-114o / -106u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The ACC bowl selection process has been a nightmare for teams that do not make a Tier 1 bowl.

The conference will not send a team to the College Football Playoff, and with the Orange Bowl being the site of the national semifinals, the ACC champion heads to the Peach Bowl.

Neither NC State nor North Carolina will have a chance to win the conference, but a trip to a Tier 2 bowl is projected for NC State. At 6-5, the Tar Heels could end up in the lowest of ACC slots from the Boca Raton to the Military Bowl.

Seven wins for North Carolina could place the Heels in the Duke's Mayo or Fenway Bowl — much more desirable postseason games.

The status of Sam Howell is everything to the spread against NC State. The soon-to-be NFL quarterback sat against Wofford with an upper-body injury. The Heels beat the Terriers by 20 points, well short of the 37-point spread.

With Howell wrapping up his college credits in December, head coach Mack Brown has acknowledged the quarterback will not be back in 2022, which may keep the future first-rounder on the sideline for this rivalry game.

#UNC's Mack Brown on Sam Howell's status: "He feels like he'll be well and ready to go Friday (vs. N.C State)"

— Ross Martin (@RossMartin_IC) November 21, 2021

North Carolina Tar Heels

The future of Tar Heels football is a quarterback battle between Jacolby Criswell and Drake Maye. Both underclassmen combined for 20-of-30 passing for 268 yards this season.

The offensive game plan against Wofford was centered around the rush in Howell's absence. In limited action, neither quarterback has made a big-time throw or turnover-worthy play, but both flashed the legs of a dual threat quarterback.

Maye 🤝 Morales

Inaugural TD toss for @DrakeMaye2! @UNCfootball@ACCFootball |

— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) November 20, 2021

Offensive coordinator Phil Longo will have a game plan intact for NC State no matter the quarterback.

The presence of Howell would continue to make North Carolina the most dangerous offense in passing downs with a current rank in the top 10 in Success Rate and explosiveness.

In the absence of Howell, the game plan will center on the rushing attack of Ty Chandler and British Brooks. Brooks recorded carries against Wofford for the first time since Week 2 against Georgia State, averaging 5.6 yards after contact and generating five missed tackles.

British Brooks 38 yard TD!

— Tar Heel Tapes (@TarHeelTapes) November 20, 2021

Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman continues to see a decline in the stop unit for the Tar Heels. The 2-4-5 scheme has generated one of the worst pass-rush ranks in the nation, alongside ranks outside the top 100 in Havoc, Stuff Rate and Standard Downs Success Rate.

Teams are moving the ball on North Carolina without much resistance, but the loaded back end of the defense has prevented explosive plays in passing downs.

Stopping the explosive play is not just part of the scheme, as UNC also boasts a tackling rank of 34th.

The North Carolina defense has firmed up in the red zone despite a rank of 99th in Finishing Drives. The Tar Heels support the 45th-best touchdown rate of all red-zone defenses, a factor in the sweat-free unders posted in the last two games against Wofford and Pittsburgh.

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NC State Wolfpack

NC State head coach Dave Doeren has yet to beat North Carolina since Mack Brown's arrival before the 2019 season. The two previous contests were not even close with a combined score of 89-31.

The Tar Heels lead the series by 22 wins since the first game was played in 1894, providing additional motivation for a Wolfpack team focused on a Tier 1 bowl in the postseason.

There's also the chance NC State represents the ACC Atlantic for the conference championship in the event Wake Forest loses to Boston College, a game scheduled 24 hours after the Wolfpack kick off in Week 13.

The Pack have a balanced attack from a formation perspective, moving between 10, 11 and 20 sets. NC State has run just four plays this season with two tight ends, electing to go with no tight ends on 57% of snaps this season.

The scheme shows in the numbers, with the offensive line ranking 113th in pass blocking while the unit posts a Passing Success rank of 14th.

Quarterback Devin Leary has posted the best season of his career with a 32:9 ratio in big-time throws to turnover-worthy plays.

Big time throw here from #NCState QB Devin Leary, finding his big bodied receiver Emeka Emezie in the corner of the end zone for a back shoulder TD.

Leary shows great touch and placement on deep passes. Been extremely efficient this season. May come back for 2022 to raise stock.

— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) November 14, 2021

The Wolfpack are versatile enough to lean on the pass — as they did with 61 passing attempts against Wake Forest — or ground and pound, evidenced by a balanced rush attack led by Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight against Syracuse.

Doeren credited the defense with the victory over the Orange, as the unit posted 14 tackles for loss and generated five sacks.

Despite the loss of linebacker Isaiah Moore, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson continues to smother opposing offenses with the 3-3-5 scheme.

🚨PICK SIX[🚨 Drake Thomas picks off Garrett Shrader and returns it for a 38 yard TD!!

— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTBVids_YT) November 20, 2021

NC State is top-15 nationally in Defensive Success Rate, Stuff Rate and tackling.

While the Defensive Havoc overall rank is in the top 25, that number is supported by how aggressive the team has been in coverage. NC State sits eighth in the nation in Passes Defensed, a key metric if a healthy Howell is under center for the Tar Heels.

North Carolina vs. NC State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how North Carolina and NC State match up statistically:

North Carolina Offense vs. NC State Defense
Rush Success54
Line Yards1024
Pass Success618
Pass Blocking**2777
Big Play546
Finishing Drives1837
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

NC State Offense vs. North Carolina Defense
Rush Success91101
Line Yards5186
Pass Success1486
Pass Blocking**113115
Big Play3462
Finishing Drives3999
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling3413
Middle 89634
SP+ Special Teams6426
Plays per Minute6189
Rush Rate57.% (49)45.4% (122)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

North Carolina vs. NC State Betting Pick

How much is Howell worth to the point spread? There are varying respected power ratings in the market that place North Carolina as a 12-point favorite with Howell and a pick'em without the NFL-bound quarterback.

The Action Network projects this game at North Carolina -4 with Howell in the lineup, indicating the current market offering expects the quarterback to play.

The better bet may come in the offering of the total, listed at 63 as of writing with a projection of 60 based on Success Rate, yards per play differential and tempo.

NC State's high rank in pass breakups is needed against Tar Heels targets Antoine Green and Josh Downs.

Because of how the Wolfpack defense is schemed, Longo may elect to make this a ground-based attack, slowing a tempo that ranks 61st in the nation. While the North Carolina defense has held opponents to field goals, the offense has a red-zone touchdown rank of 76th.

Without the explosive element on the North Carolina side, this game could be a grind with an NC State tempo rank of 89th.

The Wolfpack's rank of third in Defensive Standard Downs Success Rate may increase the number of 3-and-out drives by North Carolina with or without Howell.

The buy point on this total is the key of 62.

Pick: Under 62 or Better

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