Spread: Miami -2.5
Moneyline: Miami -154; North Carolina +126
*Odds via FanDuel.com
There is nothing on the line for either North Carolina or Miami in their game this weekend. The ACC title game is already set. Neither is in the national championship picture. Both quarterbacks have long since fallen out of contention for the Heisman Trophy.
So, how are the respective coaches going to motivate their teams to play their hardest?
Therein lies the beauty of college football. It is not always about what you can gain or lose, depending on the game’s outcome. It is about winning for the sake of winning, having a better record, and pride. Coaches don’t have to dangle the prospect of winning a championship to get the most out of their team.
But these guys do have something to gain from winning this weekend—a higher ranking and a better bowl bid. However, both teams have talented rosters that will not go down without a fight. So—who’s going to win?
North Carolina Tar Heels
For the Tar Heels, it is all about how much damage they can do on offense. Sam Howell is one of the better quarterbacks in the country. He has an excellent tandem of running backs to work with in Michael Carter and Javonte Williams. Both are also good receiving threats out of the backfield.
The offensive line has played well for most of the season, and wide receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome are one of the more dynamic wide receiver duos in the country.
North Carolina can put up some points (41.1 per game; 12th in the country). They generate offense (534.5 total yards per game; fifth in the country). But where they struggle is stopping their opponents from doing the same.
They have been giving up over 400 yards (61st) and 28.6 points a game this season (63rd). But they have been able to come through on occasion for the Tar Heels. With Miami giving up more tackles for a loss than anyone else in the ACC, they might get a chance to do so this weekend.
The Hurricanes were expected to be a good team last season, but they were missing one essential thing—a good quarterback. That is certainly not the case this year. The addition of a dynamic playmaker like D’Eriq King made them an instant threat to Clemson for conference supremacy.
Something which a 42-17 early-season loss quickly brought that dream to an end.
But the Hurricanes have bounced back well from the loss with five consecutive wins—and King’s play has had a lot to do with it. His numbers are not gaudy, but he has been efficient and makes few (if any) mistakes. So far this season, he has thrown 20 touchdowns and four picks.
Defensively, Miami is not a good team, but they are not a bad one either. They are averaging right around 366 total yards allowed per game (44th), 139.1 on the ground (42nd), and 227.1 through the air (56th).
But while they may give up a decent number of yards, they are stingy when it comes to points (22.0 per game; 30th).
Look for both Howell and King to have a big day here as both teams generate a ton of offense and score a lot of points. The lead will go back and forth throughout the game; the winner could very well be the team that has the ball last (and scores, of course).
While the Tar Heels have more overall talent on their offense, Miami has the most dynamic player in the game in King. In the end, he is going to make the difference and lead the Hurricanes to the end.
Take Miami to win, straight up and ATS. As for the over/under—these two teams will cover the over.
If you are not sure about who will win the game, you may be more interested in some of the production-based prop bets FanDuel is offering. For instance, the total passing yards mark has been set at over 300 for both quarterbacks (Sam Howell o/u 309.5; D’Eriq King o/u 304.5).
Assuming this game turns into the wild shoot out it is expected to be, both could easily cover the over. But both only have three 300+ yard games this season. It is more likely that both come close but finish with less. Take the under for both.
But the more fun question is figuring out who will score in the game (rushing and receiving touchdowns only). Howell and King have scored four rushing touchdowns this season; King may do so here but don’t bank on Howell running into the endzone.
Javonte Williams has scored 16 touchdowns this season, with at least one coming in every game but one. You can count on him scoring in this one; take the over on his rushing total as well (72.5). Michael Carter did not score in six of UNC’s ten games this season. Do not take him to score, but do take him to cover the over for his rushing total (77.5).
Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown are hit or miss when it comes to getting in the endzone, but if you want to take one of them, take Brown.
As for Miami, the ball has been spread around a lot this year. So, there is no go-to touchdown. Cam’ron Harris has scored half of the team’s rushing touchdowns, so he looks like a good bet to score. Mike Harley has scored in four of his last five games (take him). But leave the rest alone.