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Syracuse Orange vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Betting Picks

September 9, 2020


Date: Saturday, September 12th, 2020

Time: 12:00 PM ET

Venue: Kenan Memorial Stadium

Network: ACC Network

Spread: UNC -23

O/U: 65.5

Syracuse Orange Preview

The 2019 season was a troubling one for the Syracuse Orange after they went into the year with some lofty expectations. The defense was full of veterans and QB Tommy DeVito was supposed to finally have enough time to get rid of the ball. That all fell apart when they took the field and DeVito was swarmed before he could get to his second option. The Syracuse offensive line was dreadful, allowing 50 sacks (third-most in FBS) and giving the RB’s no room to move. The defense was fine at times, but also gave up 40+ points on numerous occasions. 

The RB situation is an absolute mess. Leading-rusher Moe Neal graduated and the backfield was supposed to turn over to Jarveon Howard and Abdul Adams. Both have opted out and they only have two backs left to list on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman Jawhar Jordan and Markenzy Pierre will split carries with Jordan being the lightning and Pierre the thunder. The Orange will return four of their five starting offensive lineman and they’ll need to do a lot more than they did a season ago if Devito wants to stand up for very long against the Tar Heels. 

North Carolina Tar Heels Preview

The hype train is in full effect for the Tar Heels and this first game will be very telling. QB Sam Howell was phenomenal in 2019, throwing for 3,641 yards and 38 TD to just seven interceptions. That was as a true freshman. He gets back all three of his top receivers from a season ago and this offense should have no problem getting right back into rhythm. Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome combined for 2,052 yards receiving yards and 22 scores with Beau Corrales complimenting them with another 500+ yards. The passing

The Tar Heels had similar struggles as they struggled to keep Sam Howell upright. They now lose their Senior LT to the NFL and it’ll be the biggest hole this team needs to fill. They should be just fine with four of the five starters returning and last year’s RT simply flipping sides. If you’ve been to the Carolinas, you know why this team doesn’t have much trouble finding lineman. Asim Richards will move over and the coaching staff has only had exemplary things to say about the transition. Leading rushers Michael Carter and Javonte Carter will both return and they’ll rely on the line to open up some holes.

Spread Prediction

The Pick: UNC -23

I expect the Tar Heels to come out firing this season and it all starts in this first game. QB Sam Howell already looked dynamite in his true freshman season and now gets to play a second consecutive season with all three of his leading receivers. The Syracuse defense is nothing to worry about and we should have a game of catch-up on our hands. The Tar Heels are going to be one of the more dynamic offenses in the entire country and the second-worst defense in the conference won’t slow them down.

The Orange will also be better offensively this season, but I expect there to be some growing pains for a few weeks under the new Offensive Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. They won’t have time to make any mistakes against an offense that’s going to consistently drive the ball down the field and put up points. This spread started at UNC -15.5 and has been bet all the way up to 23. Hop on before it reaches 25 as the hype on UNC is very real.

Total Prediction

While I expect the Tar Heels to do the majority of the scoring, their versatile offense is the only reason. They don’t have a great defense and this new-look Syracuse offense will find the endzone a few times. This number might seem high at first-look, but both of these offenses will be upgraded from a year ago and the defenses won’t be. They’ll also both be running the ball less than ever. Syracuse is without their top two backs and the Tar Heels are still ironing out who will lead the backfield.

I will lean heavily on overs this week as I expect defenses to have a lot more trouble than usual to begin the season. With such a short camp and most college defenses rotating 18-20 players in and out, there is going to be a ton of miscommunication and blown coverage. The offenses are dealing with the same problems, but it doesn’t take nearly as much preparation to play a skill position than it does a DB or LB. All it takes is one or two missed assignments that wouldn’t usually be missed and you hit the over.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams is a sports gambling expert. He's been writing in the sports betting and DFS industry for over a decade. He specializes in MLB and NBA, along with College Basketball and College Football.