North Carolina Tar Heels vs. NC State Wolfpack Pick 11/26

by | Nov 24, 2021 | cfb

North Carolina Tar Heels (6-5 SU, 4-7 ATS) vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS)

When: Friday, November 26, 7 p.m.

Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.

TV: ESPN

Point Spread: UNC +6/NCSU -6

Total: O/U 62.5
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Outlook

Which team values this matchup more? North Carolina State easily has more to play for here, as it can reach the ACC championship game with a win and some help. The Wolfpack is the only one of the original 12 ACC members (excluding Maryland, which left the ACC in 2013) that has never appeared in the conference title game, as they’ve been stuck behind either Florida State or Clemson in the Atlantic Division year after year. But this year, Florida State is out of the running, and the Wolfpack holds the tiebreaker over Clemson. All State has to do is beat Carolina and get some help from Boston College in beating Wake Forest, and the Wolfpack will claim the Atlantic Division crown and face Pittsburgh with an Orange Bowl bid on the line.

Carolina’s in a much more relaxed position. The Heels don’t need a win to reach a bowl game, as they secured eligibility last week in routing Wofford. They also don’t have a chance at the ACC championship game, as Pittsburgh has locked up the Coastal (leaving aside the absurdity of a school in western Pennsylvania playing in a division called the “Coastal”) and relegated the Heels to a second-tier bowl. That’s hardly what anyone expected from Sam Howell and friends this year, but it’s no less than what the Heels deserved after how poor they’ve been away from home this season. Carolina has played four road games this season and has yet to cover in any of them (no, playing Georgia Tech two miles from the Yellow Jackets’ campus doesn’t count as a neutral site loss). The Heels would love to claim a third straight win over the Wolfpack, but will that be enough to match State’s motivation to finally play in a conference championship game and earn its first crack at an ACC title since 1979?

How the Public is Betting the North Carolina/North Carolina State Game

The public is narrowly backing the Heels at this point after the spread got adjusted in Carolina’s favor. The line initially started at -7 for State, but money on the Heels has pushed it down to -6, which now has the tickets at 52 percent for Carolina. The total has ticked down a half-point to 62.5 from 63.

Injury Concerns

North Carolina:
Running back D.J. Jones (lower body) and quarterback Sam Howell (upper body) are questionable. Linebacker Tyrone Hopper (upper body), defensive back LaDaeson Deandre Hollins (lower body) , wide receiver Beau Corrales (lower body), and linebacker Ethan West (lower body) are out.

North Carolina State:
Linebacker Isaiah Moore (knee), offensive lineman Chandler Zavala (undisclosed), and linebacker Payton Wilson (shoulder) are out.

When North Carolina Has the Ball

The big question for Carolina is whether Sam Howell is healthy enough to play because if he’s not, things get very dicey in a hurry for the Heels. The odds are that Howell will play, as he’s not going to want to miss what is almost certainly his final start against State. That means that State’s pass defense will have its work cut out for it in trying to keep Josh Downs under wraps, as Downs has snagged 90 of Howell’s 191 completions on the year. When the Heels are outside the red zone, he’s the one to pay attention to at all times.
Inside the red zone, however, is when Carolina’s options start to open. They love to go to Antoine Green and Kamari Morales inside the 20, as the two have a combined ten touchdowns on the year while catching just 48 balls between them. If they don’t pass, they have a great running option in Ty Chandler, who has broken the 1,000-yard mark and averages six yards per carry. This is an offense that can put up points in bunches, making this a defensive challenge like none the Wolfpack has seen this year.

When North Carolina State Has the Ball

Howell gets all the hype, but statistically, Devin Leary is actually the better passer in this matchup. The quarterback has thrown for 3,186 yards and 31 touchdowns on the season, and although part of that is because State throws the ball a ton, he only has five picks compared to Howell’s eight. Plus, the Wolfpack’s numbers haven’t been hurt despite having to play Clemson, a test that Carolina didn’t have to face.
When Leary throws, he’s got three good options in Emeka Emezie, Devin Carter, and Thayer Thomas, all of whom have at least four touchdowns and 548 yards on the year. The Wolfpack also share their carries well, as Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person have each topped 500 yards and have almost the same number of touches on the season.

More Picks: Get Dan’s Betting Analysis and Pick on Friday’s Missouri vs. Arkansas game >>>

This is an offense that’s mostly about balance: the Wolfpack don’t try to overwhelm opponents with quick scoring drives and a ton of yards. They get the job done with steady performances, figuring if they do their job, the defense will do the rest.

Betting Trends

This has been Carolina’s rivalry to dominate over the years, as the road team has covered in six of the past eight meetings, and the two exceptions were both Carolina covers in Chapel Hill. State hasn’t covered in Raleigh since 2011, and the Wolfpack have lost the game outright on three of four occasions at Carter-Finley.
But this year, there’s another trend that works in the Wolfpack’s favor: Carolina has been just awful against the spread away from home. The Heels have failed to cover in five straight road games dating back to last year, and they have just one cover in their past six games overall. Of course, that cover was against potential ACC champion Wake Forest, who happened to be the ideal matchup for the Heels.
One interesting subplot is that the way this game goes as far as the total has depended almost entirely on which team is the stronger on that day. When the Heels have won, they’ve topped 40 points on four of the past five occasions. When it’s been the Wolfpack’s day, anything in the 30s has been a winning score. If you like State, pair the Wolfpack with the under; if you’re on Carolina, you’ll want the over.

Weather Report

This weather would be a lot better suited to the Carolina Hurricanes than the Carolina-State game. Temperatures will drop into the mid-20s during this game, with the wind blowing at four miles per hour.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

Carolina has been terrible on the road all year, and State absolutely needs this game to give itself a chance at the ACC title game. The Wolfpack will probably not get the help they need from Boston College, but that game isn’t until Saturday, so they’ve got every reason to play hard and go for the cover.
I think they’ve got the motivation they need to get a cover. Give me the Wolfpack. Bet your UNC/NCST pick and ALL your Week 13 college football picks for FREE by scoring a 100% real cash bonus at Betnow Sportsbook!

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