North Carolina vs Virginia Odds, Prediction: Bet Drake Maye & Tar Heels
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Drake Maye (North Carolina)
North Carolina vs Virginia Odds
Despite being 7-1 — with its lone loss being to a solid Notre Dame team — North Carolina continues to fly under the radar a little bit.
The Heels find themselves ranked No. 17 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. They are the lowest ranked, one-loss Power Five team and are behind four teams with two losses.
With a 4-0 conference record, North Carolina looks like it's in good shape to reach the ACC Championship and represent the Coastal Division.
At the bottom of the Coastal Division sits the Virginia Cavaliers. They are just 3-5 in their first season under Tony Elliott and 1-4 in conference play.
This game will be a contrast of styles, as one team has the ACC’s best offense and the other ranks 13th. But will that be enough for the Heels to cover a spread of over a touchdown?
I’m going to make a very definitive statement that might be a hot take to some people.
C.J. Stroud is the Heisman front runner, Bryce Young is the reigning Heisman winner and Hendon Hooker and Caleb Williams are both having fantastic seasons, but Drake Maye is the most talented quarterback in the country.
The North Carolina freshman leads the nation with 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He is averaging 333.9 yards per game and is completing 71.3% of his passes. He has 26 Big Time Throws (the most in the country) and is also averaging 55 yards per game on the ground.
This Drake Maye pass is something else. Calm cool and collected as he evades pressure, does just enough to let Josh Downs break off, and flicks the wrist for a beautiful TD toss.
He makes this look easy. pic.twitter.com/Nf6LMUmhIB
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 30, 2022
Maye has done all this with his top two wide receivers — Josh Downs and Antoine Green — both missing multiple games.
When healthy, they are each averaging over 85 yards per game and each have scored more than a touchdown per game. North Carolina is fifth in the nation in Explosiveness, and these two receivers are a big reason why.
The issue for the Tar Heels has obviously been their defense. They rank 127th in Success Rate and have allowed the 10th most yards per game in the country.
UNC really struggles to create Havoc and teams have just been running it down its throat. North Carolina has allowed over 200 yards on the ground in half of its games this year.
Things could go from bad to worse for this defense, if that is even possible. The Heels lost two key players for the rest of the season last week — starting linebacker Desmond Evans and edge rusher Noah Taylor, who is probably their best pass rusher.
Taylor started his career playing four years at Virginia.
I’m not sure if Brennan Armstrong would have been selected in last year’s NFL draft, but I'm guessing he still regrets coming back for another year — since that hope is now out the window.
After tossing 31 touchdowns last season and finishing second in the country with 404.5 yards per game, he now sits at just 228.3 yards per game.
Armstrong has thrown just six touchdowns all season, with nine interceptions. His passer grade at Pro Football Focus has gone from 90.3 last season to 56.2 this year.
He’s been the worst quarterback in the entire conference.
You wouldn’t expect a team that hired an offensive coordinator as their head coach to be sitting 123rd in scoring, but that’s where the Cavaliers rank after hiring Elliott from Clemson. They sit outside the top 100 in Success Rate and have been one of the worst teams in the country at Finishing Drives.
Despite returning their top three receivers from last season, those talents have combined for just two touchdowns all year.
Turnovers have been a huge issue for this offense, too. The Cavs have lost 10 fumbles this year, and only two teams have put the ball on the turf more.
Another thing you wouldn’t expect from an offensive coach is he would take a defense that was one of the worst in the entire country and quickly have it as one of the most improved units on any team. The Cavaliers' defense ranks 35th in the country in Defensive Success Rate this year.
This should be a fun matchup between the explosive UNC offense and a Virginia defense that ranks fifth at defending Explosiveness. The Cavaliers are the fourth best tackling team in the nation and do a good job at keeping things in front of them.
Virginia has two cornerbacks that have been terrific this year. Anthony Johnson and Fentrell Cypress II are both really good tacklers and excellent in coverage. They each have allowed less than a 50% completion rate on them and neither has allowed a touchdown reception all year.
They help lead a secondary that ranks seventh in coverage grade.
North Carolina vs Virginia Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how North Carolina and Virginia match up statistically:
North Carolina Offense vs. Virginia Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
Virginia Offense vs. North Carolina Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams
|Seconds per Play
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
North Carolina vs Virginia Betting Pick
This game is full strength-on-strength and weakness-on-weakness, as these two teams are built totally different.
North Carolina ranks fifth in the country in Explosiveness on offense. Well, the Virginia defense ranks fifth in the country at defending Explosiveness on defense.
The Tar Heels' defense is outside of the top 100 on defense and can’t stop anybody. But the Cavaliers rank outside of the top 100 on offense and can’t move the ball on anybody.
I’m going to the side with the star quarterback and the high-flying offense. The Heels have proven that they can light up any defense. North Carolina put up 32 points against Notre Dame. They totaled 41 points and 527 yards against Virginia Tech and 42 points and 474 yards against Pittsburgh.
Virginia has been terrific on defense, but its success has come against Illinois, Old Dominion, Syracuse, Duke, Louisville’s backup quarterback, Georgia Tech’s backup quarterback and Miami’s backup quarterback. None of those teams can throw the ball at all.
The fewest points this North Carolina offense has scored all season has been 27. Even if Virginia is able to hold UNC to its worst performance of the season, Virginia would still need to total 19 points to cover that spread.
The Cavs have scored 17 points or less in four straight games and have scored 19 points just once against a FBS team all season.
Even against this porous Tar Heels defense, Virginia has not been able to move the ball or score on anybody. And while North Carolina hasn’t stopped anybody, a lot of the time Virginia will stop itself. No team in the country has turned the ball over more than the Hoos.
While I don’t love laying the hook here, we just saw this Tar Heels offense turn it on and blow out Pittsburgh. They are 3-1 against the spread in conference play, and Virginia just doesn’t have the offense to keep up with them.
Lay it with North Carolina who should be looking to make a statement after the disrespect from the CFB Playoff Committee.