UNC vs. NC State Betting Odds & Pick: Top 25 ACC Rivals Square Off in Chapel-Hill (Saturday, Oct. 24)
Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Emeka Emezie.
UNC vs. NC State Betting Odds
|UNC Odds||-14.5 [LIVE ODDS]|
|NC State Odds||+14.5 [LIVE ODDS]|
|Moneyline||-670/+420 [LIVE ODDS]|
|Over/Under||60.5 [LIVE ODDS]|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
We get an in-state rivalry matchup on Saturday when North Carolina State travels across Interstate 40 to face North Carolina.
Mack Brown’s Tar Heels will be trying to get off the mat after a deflating road loss to Florida State. Trailing 31-3 at halftime, UNC was in position to steal the game, but three consecutive dropped passes ruined its comeback bid.
Meanwhile, NC State enters this game as a pleasant surprise in the ACC, jumping out to a 4-1 record. However, it will be replacing starting quarterback Devin Leary, with backup Bailey Hockman potentially being a concern as the Wolfpack heads to Chapel Hill.
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North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels might have been ranked as high as No. 5 in the country, but have not impressed much to date. The club sleep-walked through wins over Syracuse and Boston College, allowed 45 points to a bare-bones Virginia Tech team, and couldn’t finalize a comeback against Florida State last week.
Now, it seems like the sky is falling, but it’s not. The Heels are still posting an offensive success rate north of 50% — one of the best marks in the country — and are in good hands with quarterback Sam Howell. The sophomore is completing more than 64% of his passes, with seven different receivers catching five or more passes this season.
On the ground, UNC is dominating. Averaging 5.67 yards per carry, the two-headed monster of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams have been feasting on opposing defenses. This is a stout NC State run defense and the Heels have been trying to force-feed their backs. While it has been strong, the Pack’s run defense is not impenetrable.
The unit allowed 314 yards on the ground to Virginia Tech in its lone loss. UNC’s run game is among the ACC elite and the duo might be able to break into the second level.
If the NC State run defense holds, coach Mack Brown will still be able to pivot nicely by putting the ball in Howell’s hands more. Howell should be feeling confident after almost bringing the team back against Florida State, throwing four second-half touchdowns.
On defense, this UNC team has underwhelmed. They are getting beat deep, but Hockman has not shown the ability to really air it out on any defense. The Tar Heels are going to need to limit the Pack’s rushing attack that has featured two strong backs of its own in Zonovan Knight and Ricky Pearson.
If the host can force its opponent into passing situations, it can pin the ears back and put some pressure on Hockman, who has thrown his fair share of picks.
NC State Wolfpack
While the Wolfpack stand 4-1 thus far, its record may be a bit embellished. The team has an offensive success rate of 38% this season and results of the games are a bit misleading. Two of the Pack’s wins were in games where it was outgained by its opponent.
The big news out of Raleigh is the team will be without Leary (broken leg), with the redshirt junior Hockman entering as starter. He’s not completely green due to the fact he has gotten some playing time this year and last season. Hockman helped carve up the Wake Forest defense in an opening-game shootout this season, going 16 for 23 for 191 yards.
However, he struggled in the second game, completing 43% of his passes to go with two interceptions. Hockman also saw action against North Carolina last season in a 41-10 loss in Raleigh. He completed just six of his 10 passes and threw an interception in that defeat.
This is a North Carolina defense that does not get a ton of pressure on the quarterback, but has only allowed its opponents to complete 53% of its passes. The game plan may change with Hockman in the lineup, but the Heels only have 12 sacks through four games.
With limited pressure, the defense has been susceptible to the big play through the air. The path for a successful passing game is there for the Pack. If Hockman can get the ball downfield and take the lid off this UNC defense, the visitor can hang around on the scoreboard.
The issue for Hockman is he hasn’t shown a propensity for airing it out in his limited action this season or seven games last year. Hockman’s averaging under seven yards per pass attempt so far this season, which is an improvement from 5.6 yards per attempts in 2019.
The Pack have benefitted from some timely turnovers, generating six interceptions — one that went for touchdown — and recovering two fumbles. In addition, NC State blocked a punt for a touchdown last week against Duke. The defensive unit is allowing 3.89 yards a carry, an impressive mark that should help against a UNC team that has attempted to establish the run.
Lastly, NC State’s defense has been getting in the opposing backfield, picking up 42 tackles for loss through five games, tied for sixth best in the country.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This spread has danced over two touchdowns all week, opening with UNC -14.5, and climbing to as high -17 before settling in back at the original number.
I do have this spread at -17 and feel comfortable betting the Heels at -16.5 or lower. As I noted above, Brown’s club smoked the Wolfpack last season.
North Carolina State is sure to remember that game and show up, but this team has had quite a few misleading box scores and the underlying metrics indicate a lucky team, not a ranked one. While the Wolfpack’s defensive numbers seem strong, I foresee some regression to the mean, especially with the talent on the opposing sideline.
I expect Brown to get his team up for this rivalry game at home after last season’s heartbreaking loss. The Tar Heels can still maintain an inside track to the ACC Championship game with a win here. That said, I think they will take some frustration out on a replacement quarterback and team that is not as good as its record indicates.
Lay the number with the UNC in this rivalry matchup.
Pick: North Carolina -14.5, play to -16.5