North Carolina State Wolfpack vs #17 North Carolina Tar Heels (11/25 @ 3:30 PM EST)
Spread: UNC -6.5
Money Line: NC State +205 / UNC -250
Overview and Betting Info
The NC State Wolfpack (7-4) will head to Chapel Hill to renew their interstate rivalry with the #17 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-2). UNC leads the overall series 68-37-6. They’ve won two of the last three meetings, but the Wolfpack beat them at home last year.
NC State is 3-8 against the spread this season, failing to cover seven of their last eight games. They’ve struggled to score points most of the season, going under in four of their previous five games.
UNC is 5-5-1 versus the spread this year, going 2-3 at home. They have covered just two of their previous five games. They have gone under the total six times this season, including in their last three games.
North Carolina State
The Wolfpack started the season 4-0, but a slew of injuries caused their offense to collapse in the second half. The loss of starting quarterback Devin Leary hurt, and backup MJ Morris could miss his second game this weekend. That means we will likely see a combination of Ben Finley (201 yards, 1 TD, 45% completion) and running quarterback Jack Chambers (252 yards, 1 TD). While receiver Thayer Thomas (51 receptions, 586 yards, 4 TD) has been a reliable top receiver for each quarterback, the rest of this talented unit has struggled to find consistency. One receiver to watch Friday night is Devin Carter, who has been good for at least one 20+ yard catch almost every week.
The Wolfpack run game has also dealt with its fair share of injuries, but Michael Allen (6.2 YPC) and Jordan Houston (500 rushing, 200 receiving yards) have recently formed an impressive duo. They won’t overwhelm you on the stat sheet, but they should be good enough to capitalize on a bad Tar Heel rush defense. Houston’s ability as a back and receiver makes us believe he will be in for a big night on Friday.
NC State’s defense has been a big reason for their success all season. They allow 323 yards per game and have one of the top two run defenses in the ACC. The Wolfpack’s success is partly due to linebacker Drake Thomas, who leads the team in tackles (80) and sacks (5.5). The issue is they spend too much time on the field, thanks to an offense struggling to drive the ball. Their secondary gives up yards, but they generate turnovers with an ACC-high 16 interceptions. They have a playmaker in defensive back Aydan White, who leads the team with four interceptions (1 for a TD) and eight pass deflections. They’ll be tested this week as they visit the most dangerous offense in the ACC.
The Tar Heels have been the ACC’s most prolific offense this season, leading in points per game (38), yards per game (492), and passing yards per game (328). The reason for their success is true freshmen quarterback Drake Maye. He’s a dual threat that has become one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the country. Maye has 3,614 yards (3rd in FBS) to go along with 34 touchdowns (3rd in FBS). He’s also the leading rusher with 597 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Maye is helped by a playmaker in receiver Josh Downs, who leads the team with 878 yards on 77 catches for eleven touchdowns. Behind him is another talented wideout in Antoions Green (30 rec, 678 yards, 6 TD). They had a deadly passing attack that will look to bounce back from an off week against Georgia Tech.
The Tar Heels have had injuries at running back, but Elijah Moore has returned to lead this backfield. He’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has seven touchdowns despite an injury that kept him out a month and a half. Moore seems to be returning to his old self, with 249 yards and four touchdowns. His resurgence should boost a run game that has relied chiefly on Maye this season. They will face an elite run defense in NC State, but the combination of Maye and Moore may be too much even for them.
The Tar Heel’s defense has been as bad as the offense has been good. They are allowing the most points and yards in the ACC. They are dead last against the pass and second worst against the run. They are also last in sacks with just 15. Their focus is just making a few key stops to give this offense the time it needs to score. Linebacker Cedric Gray (121 tackles, 5 PD, 3 INT, 2 FF) and defensive back Storm Duck (9 PD, 3 INT) are both playmakers that have stepped up in critical situations. We will be watching how they bounce back after being exposed by Georgia Tech last week. Tech hammered the run game for several long, time-consuming drives that kept Mayes and the offense off the field. We expect NC State to follow suit Saturday.
Free Pick: North Carolina -6.5
We don’t expect UNC to run away with this one, but we see this as a ten-point win for the Tar Heels. We don’t think MJ Morris plays (or if he does, he’ll be limited), and the Wolfpack offense has yet to show they can win without him. As good as NC State’s defense is, Maye will present a challenge they haven’t seen. NC State should find success on the ground, but they don’t have the personnel to dominate the ground as Georgia Tech did. We see the Wolfpack making a solid effort, but the Tar Heels pull ahead to win by ten.
We’re giving up the points to roll with UNC in this one.