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North Carolina State vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Betting Picks and Predictions

23 October 2020

NCAAF Picks Austyn Varney
Date:Saturday, October 24th
Time:12:00 PM ET
Network:ESPN
Venue:Kenan Memorial Stadium
Spread:North Carolina -15.5
O/U:60.5

The 4-1 N.C State Wolfpack will go on the road Saturday to face off with the 3-1 North Carolina Tar Heels at 12:00 PM ET in Kenan Stadium. You can tune in on ESPN. The Tar Heels are coming off a devastating loss while the Wolfpack have won three straight. The Tar Heels come in as 15.5-point home favorites and we’re expecting a shootout with a 60.5 over/under. Let’s dive into who will win this game and cover the spread. 

When The NC State Wolfpack Have The Ball

The Wolfpack have been a much different team with Devin Leary under center and they’ve climbed to number 23 in the national rankings. They’ve gone 4-1 with a very tough schedule, facing two top-20 teams and another three right on the verge of being ranked. They’re averaging 33 points per game and nearly 400 yards per contest. They’ll be forced to keep up with a lethal UNC team this weekend. 

The only loss came in a game that QB Bailey Hockman started and was utterly terrible in. Devin Leary was inserted at halftime and was great, but didn’t have enough time to mount the comeback. He’s now thrown for 890 yards and eight touchdowns through just three and a half games. He’s been nothing short of elite to start the season and he’ll have to keep it up in this one. 

When Leary drops back to throw the football, he has plenty of weapons at his disposal. It all starts with Emeka Emezie, who’s already caught 19 balls for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Cary Angeline has led the way with five touchdowns on 11 catches for 177 yards. Devin Carter and Thayer Thomas are both over 10 catches and 100+ yards. If defenses pay too much attention to Emezie and Angeline, Thomas and Carter can have a massive game. Expect all of these guys to be heavily involved in a game that NC State will have to score a bunch of points in. 

The Wolfpack are a balanced offense and running backs Ricky Person and Zonovan Knight split carries evenly. Knight is the better back, however, and it’s somewhat clear if you just watch the pair run. He’s rushed for 365 yards and three scores while Person has added 323 and as many touchdowns. They’re averaging close to 5.5 yards per carry, which is a huge number for a team that prides itself on throwing the ball. 

When The North Carolina Tar Heels Have The Ball

The Tar Heels couldn’t stop flirting with close games and the Florida State Seminoles made them pay a week ago. They’ve dropped from the fifth team in the nation to 14th and I’m not sure they even deserve that number with how they’ve played this year. Superstar QB Sam Howell hasn’t been bad in the slightest, but he also hasn’t been one of the best players in the country like we’ve come to expect. He’s thrown for 1,151 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions while running for another 30 yards. He will have to play his best game of the season here or NC State will upset them for a second straight week. 

While Howell hasn’t been as great as we’ve wanted, the running backs have carried this team. The combination of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams is a scary one and the different styles of running keeps defenses on their heels. They’re both over 400 yards on the season and Williams has run for seven scores while Carter has punched it in just twice. He’s the more dynamic back in space while Williams runs downhill. The Wolfpack can struggle against the run, so don’t be shocked to see another big day out of the pair.

Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome were two of the more interesting wide receiver prospects in College Football coming into 2020 after they exploded onto the scene a season ago. Brown is still leading the team with 296 yards and three scores, but Newsome has taken a bit of a step-down. He’s caught just 14 balls for 137 yards and a single score. Williams out of the backfield and Beau Corrales have accounted for more yardage than Newsome. On one hand, it’s worrisome, but it also shows Corrales is a worthy option and Newsome will return to form before long. Expect Howell to throw the ball close to 45 times in this game and you can expect all three top options to see around 10 targets. 

For North Carolina, they have to step up defensively. They looked decent in the second half against Florida State, but that was after getting obliterated to start the game. The Wolfpack are a lot more lethal than FSU right now and they’re dealing with a QB in Devin Leary that is mature beyond his years. They must get into the backfield and disrupt this offense without giving up too much over the top. Linebacker Chaz Surratt is going to be a NFL player and he’ll need to be his usual self on Saturday. 

Spread Prediction

This is a rivalry game in the state of North Carolina and these two teams will be on fire coming out of the gates. While a lot of hype is put on the head of Sam Howell, Devin Leary hasn’t been talked about much and he’s been phenomenal early in the season. He’s keeping good care of the ball and delivering it to his weapons down the field. The Wolfpack have a diverse rushing attack and they’ll slice the Tar Heels on the ground if they become too blitz-happy. 

I love the NC State Wolfpack to keep this game close and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see them hand the Tar Heels their second consecutive loss. The UNC offense has all the weapons, but the offensive line hasn’t played great and there certainly doesn’t seem to be as much chemistry as there was a year ago. It’s always a worry that this offense will click out of nowhere, but I don’t think it’s this week. I love the Wolfpack +15.5, but the total is my favorite bet in this game. 

The Pick: NC State +15.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Total Prediction

I want the over here all the way up to 63 points. I expect the winning team to be into the 40’s for this game and for the loser to be trailing pretty closely behind. Both of these teams have a surplus of weapons at their disposal and both QB’s are elite at getting those weapons the ball. Neither defense is very worrisome either, as UNC takes far too many chances and the Wolfpack are banged up. This over is one of my favorite bets of the entire weekend and I’ll be laying three personal units on it. 

The Pick: Over 60.5

Final Score Prediction: North Carolina 42, NC State 32

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers
  • North Carolina State is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
  • North Carolina State is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games played in October.
  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of North Carolina State’s last 5 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in 5 of North Carolina State’s last 5 games on the road.

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