Boston College vs. UNC Betting Odds & Pick: Eagles Undervalued as a Home Underdog (Saturday, Oct. 3)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Carter.
- UNC is a nearly two-touchdown favorite on the road, something they haven't seen in the ACC in over 20 years.
- But is the spread too high for the Tar Heels against Boston College?
- Below, Michael Calabrese previews the matchup in his Boston College vs. UNC betting guide.
Boston College vs. UNC Odds
|Boston College Odds||+14.5 [BET NOW]|
|North Carolina Odds||-14.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+430/-590 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||52 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
The 2020 college football season has already presented some very strange one-off scenarios.
From last-minute games being scheduled against triple-option teams (yikes, MTSU) to FCS opponents nearly upsetting FBS opponents down 30-plus players (so close, Campbell), this season has put some teams in a tough spot. That trend continues this week as two AP Top-25 teams head out on the road for their first game in three weeks. One of those teams, North Carolina, will be facing a Boston College program in search of its second 3-0 start since Matt Ryan was the Eagles’ quarterback.
Will the Tar Heels’ long layoff, their longest in-season break between games in 68 years, lead to another slow start, or can Mack Brown rally the troops for their road trip to the ACC’s northern outpost?
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Boston College Eagles
The “rust vs. momentum” angle certainly favors the Eagles this weekend in Chestnut Hill, but there’s more to like than just that. This positive momentum factor pairs nicely with Boston College’s performance against the spread as a home team since joining the ACC.
The Eagles are the second-most profitable ACC team ATS at home since 2005, and are 4-1 as a home dog in the past two seasons. The private Jesuit college is far from a “public team,” which means gamblers generally find value in backing the Eagles.
From an on-field perspective, BC finally has a quarterback capable of carrying the team. Phil Jurkovec transferred from Notre Dame last season and is currently completing more than 70% of his passes.
He’s also doing a decent job protecting the football with five total touchdowns against just two turnovers. His play puts him in the top 30 nationally in terms of yards per attempt, passing efficiency, and ESPN’s QBR metric.
My main concern with BC has been its offensive line. The Eagles have surrendered eight sacks in just two games and face a UNC defense that registered seven sacks against Syracuse in their opener.
Watching Jurkovec through two games, it’s evident that he wants to extend plays with his athleticism which has been a double-edged sword. The sacks have come on plays where he could have gotten rid of the football, but he’s also created big plays like this one:
What about this throw by @BCFootball QB Phil Jurkovec?
— Jawn Skudris (@JawnSkudris) September 24, 2020
In the end, BC needed a playmaker like Jurkovec at quarterback to pair with wideout Zay Flowers and tight end Hunter Long, so they’re willing to take the good with the bad. Long, in particular, is emerging as the ACC’s best tight end, and Flowers is averaging 26 yards per reception.
When you pair a more explosive BC offense with their traditionally stingy defense forcing six turnovers through two games, it’s no wonder they already have a completely different look from their Steve Addazio days.
North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels snuck up on the college football world last season. UNC entered the 2019 season with relatively low expectations, given the fact that they were led by a first-year head coach and a true freshman quarterback.
UNC found themselves in a dog fight nearly every week, with nine of their first ten games being decided by a touchdown or less. It wasn’t until late in the season when the Tar Heels crushed Mercer, NC State and Temple that they began to be viewed as a team with top-15 potential. They finished the year 8-5 ATS overall and 5-2 when installed as a favorite.
For an added perspective of just how quickly things have changed in Chapel Hill, the 14-point spread in this game represents the first time since 1997 that UNC has been favored by two touchdowns or more in an ACC road game.
This season, expectations are wholly different and, as a result, backing the Tar Heels comes at a hefty price. Case in point, UNC opened as a 15.5-point favorite against Syracuse before the spread was bet up to the 24-point range.
The Tar Heels limped through the first three quarters against the Orange before exploding with three late touchdowns to cover the number 31-6. We’re seeing slight movement in favor of UNC’s opponent again this week, as the line has climbed from UNC-11.5 at the open to 14 at some books.
I still viewed the Tar Heels as a work in progress entering this season, and if it weren’t for an impressive final fifteen minutes against Syracuse, the public wouldn’t be nearly as high on them either. That final stanza against Syracuse also revealed that UNC is comfortable taking the ball out of Howell’s hands.
The impressive sophomore signal-caller forced a handful of passes in the first three quarters, resulting in a pair of interceptions that kept Syracuse in the game. By the fourth quarter, offensive coordinator Phil Longo was ready to dial up run after run, featuring Javonte Williams almost exclusively between the tackles.
I anticipate more ground and pound from Longo and the UNC staff, and less of the explosive chunk plays that put Howell on the preseason Heisman radar. The value here lies in fading the nationally ranked team that struggled with a weak opponent in their opener by taking BC and the two touchdowns at home.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
The key number in this spot is highly significant given the potential for a backdoor cover, so I’ll be playing BC at both 13.5 and 14. If this number jumps up to 14.5 at any point between now and kickoff it would instantly become one of my top plays of the weekend.
Pick: Boston College +14.5