Minnesota vs UNC Odds, Picks: It’s Drake Maye Time

Minnesota vs UNC Odds, Picks: It’s Drake Maye Time article feature image

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Drake Maye.

Minnesota vs North Carolina Odds

Saturday, Sept. 16
3:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota Odds
-110o / -110u
North Carolina Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

We have an interesting non-conference matchup in Week 3 as the Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Minnesota (2-0) has impressed on the strength of its defense, but hasn't lit up the scoreboard on offense.

Meanwhile, North Carolina (2-0) seems to be doing what it always does under head coach Mack Brown — put up points in bunches.

When the unstoppable force meets the immovable object, something has to give. I think that one side has the advantage. Let’s take a look at my preview and best bet for Minnesota vs North Carolina on Saturday.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers

Through two games, two things appear to be true about Minnesota football: the defense is tough to score on and the offense is tough to watch.

In Week 1, the Golden Gophers’ offense struggled against Nebraska to the tune of a 26th-percentile Success Rate and EPA per play. Minnesota averaged just 3.64 yards per play and likely would have lost if not for a little help from Nebraska.

In terms of Success Rate, things went much better for Minnesota against Eastern Michigan. Minnesota had a 93rd-percentile Success Rate, but still only generated 5.74 yards per play and a 42nd-percentile EPA per play. While the Success Rate is promising, EMU has the 99th-best defense in the country, according to SP+.

The Golden Gophers rank 81st in Success Rate, 114th in Finishing Drives and 121st in Explosiveness. Most of their success has come on the ground, where they're 60th in Rushing Success Rate.

Defensively, Minnesota has allowed just 16 points this season. The Golden Gophers are rated as the sixth-best defense by SP+ and are 15th in EPA per play.

Much of this has come from their pass defense, which ranks third in EPA per play allowed and seventh in Success Rate. This shouldn’t come as a shock, as the Golden Gophers had the fifth-best defense by SP+ a season ago.

If Minnesota wants to win this weekend, the defense will need to continue showing out and hope the offense makes some improvements.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Last year’s Tar Heels defense was brutal. They ranked 105th in SP+ and were gashed every single week. This made it hard on the offense, as the Heels had to try to overcome this each game.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but it looks like this year’s defense will be much more competent.

North Carolina is 57th in Success Rate Allowed and 34th in Finishing Drives despite having the 131st-best starting field position on defense. The unit seems to have improved from last year, ranking 57th in SP+’s defensive ratings.

A stronger run defense is largely to credit here, as UNC ranks 41st in Rushing Success Rate compared to 72nd in Passing Success Rate. Considering that Minnesota runs the ball 54% of the time and struggles with the pass, the Tar Heels should be able to match up well with the Gophers.

Despite losing offensive coordinator Phil Longo, the Tar Heels' offense has still been strong under new OC Chip Lindsey. They rank 23rd in Offensive Success Rate and third in Havoc Allowed. However, Finishing Drives has been an issue, as the Tar Heels are just 114th in that category.

Quarterback Drake Maye has been great. Case in point: North Carolina is first in EPA per play through the air and Maye is averaging 0.21 EPA per dropback.

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Minnesota vs North Carolina

Matchup Analysis

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

Minnesota Offense vs. North Carolina Defense
Rush Success5741
Line Yards6364
Pass Success9063
Finishing Drives11031
Quality Drives495
North Carolina Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
Rush Success27115
Line Yards30132
Pass Success3911
Finishing Drives11752
Quality Drives2733
Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling5422
PFF Coverage2959
Special Teams SP+7859
Middle 88933
Seconds per Play30.1 (116)24.2 (23)
Rush Rate57.9% (38)57.5% (54)

Minnesota vs North Carolina

Betting Pick & Prediction

North Carolina’s defense has shown marked signs of improvement from last year, while its offense remains a strength. Maye is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and gives UNC an edge at the position over almost every opponent.

Minnesota’s defense is strong, but I don’t have faith in it holding up enough against a competent UNC passing attack.

In the end, I don't think Minnesota's offense has what it takes to cover this number, and I believe North Carolina will triumph with a double-digit victory.

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