North Carolina Tar Heels (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Duke Blue Devils (3-6 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Wallace-Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UNC -11/DUKE +11
Over/Under Total: 59.5
The North Carolina Tar Heels take on the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday in ACC action from Durham. The Tar Heels are actually on a nice roll, with 7 of 8 wins since a week one loss to Georgia. Other than a bizarre loss on a rain-soaked field against Virginia Tech, they’ve been taking care of business, also covering 6 of their last 8 games, including three straight. On Saturday, they beat Georgia Tech, 48-20, to push their record to 7-2. Duke, conversely, lost their third in a row with a gutty 24-21 loss to Virginia Tech. They’ve had some isolated moments of success this season, including a win over Notre Dame, but it’s been mostly slim picking for the Blue Devils this season.
The one positive thing about Duke is that they cover spreads. With 6 covers in 9 games, including four straight, they’ve been solid from a betting standpoint. In road games against powerful Louisville and Georgia Tech, they were resilient in a losing fashion. So for the purposes of this game, we need to keep in mind that the Blue Devils can be gritty even when things aren’t really going their way. They’re going to need that resourcefulness this week against a hot incoming Tar Heels bunch.
The Duke offense is pretty balanced, while not being particularly explosive or compelling in any way. Their 24 point per game average is pretty low by conference standards. Quarterback Daniel Jones has 11 TD throws against nine picks. He has had some big showings this season and is over 2000 yards though the air. He can use his legs to good affect at times with five TD scampers. The redshirt freshman is still learning and spreads the ball around to different ball-catchers like TJ Rahming, Anthony Nash, Jonathan Lloyd, and Erich Schneider, among others. Along with Jones making some nice runs, they have spread the rushing duties between Jela Duncan and Shaun Wilson. Duncan, however, was lost for the season after their loss to Georgia Tech. In Duke’s last eight games, they have scored 21 or fewer points 6 times.
In 7 games this season, the Duke defense has allowed 24 or less points. They are the 39th-ranked defense in the land. They are pretty adept at rushing the passer and just generally have a robust air to them more often than not. A few weeks ago, they even held Louisville to an uncharacteristic 24 points on the afternoon. They’ve recovered nine fumbles on the season with 7 picks. Against a North Carolina offense that can make things happen, this side of the ball will be depended on heavily on Thursday.
North Carolina has scored some big wins including a road win over Florida State. Their season-opening loss to Georgia and landslide loss on a swampy field against the Hokies are their only setbacks. Other than that, it’s been pretty much smooth sailing for the Tar Heels and their backers at the betting windows. Their pass-defense has been really good, as has their passing offense under the stewardship of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. And they are still in there with a shot to do big things this season, especially if they somehow take the coastal division in the ACC, where they are currently tied with the Hokies.
The North Carolina offense has gotten good play from a lot of players and certainly QB Mitch Trubisky. This season, he has completed over 70% of his throws with 19 TD throws and just two picks. He has also run in 5 touchdowns. While the rush is not the best part of the offense, they get good contributions from time to time from Elijah Hood and TJ Logan, as the pair have combined for 1150 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. They each average 6 yards per carry.
The North Carolina aerial attack is a deep and versatile one. Trubisky has been accurate with his targets and is over 2700 yards this season. Leading the way is Ryan Switzer with 728 yards, followed closely by Bug Howard and Austin Proehl. Trubisky has been very good, with both of his picks coming in that bad V-Tech loss. With the offense peaking, it’s also helped the defense stay good and rested.
The North Carolina defense took some knocks to open the season, but they’re also getting better as the season gets into crunch-time. In the last three games, they’ve allowed 47 combined points, which is going to get it done more often than not. There are some issues with this group, as they give up 26.2 a game. And they’ve yet to register a single interception on the season, while even the second-worst team in the country in that category has three.
North Carolina has no margin for error if looking for something big this season. They are hoping Virginia Tech can perhaps stumble and open a crease for them to win the division and get a shot at Clemson in the ACC title game, where a whole slew of possibilities open up for the Tar Heels. And with both sides of the ball showing increased venom, a slip-up at this point seems unlikely. They have a road game, but it is in-state and against a team they beat by 35 points last season and that was a 6-win Duke team, not the 3-win squad they are now facing. I’m taking the Tar Heels.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Tar Heels minus 11 points.
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