North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Virginia Cavaliers Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

North Carolina Tar Heels (6-4 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (4-6 SU, 1-9 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday November 15th, 2012. 7:30PM Eastern
Where: Scott Stadium Charlottesville, V.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: Tar Heels -6/Cavaliers +6
Over/Under Total: OFF

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ACC Coastal rivals tangle this Thursday night when the North Carolina Tar Heels travel to Charlottesville to battle the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Last week Cavaliers QB Michael Rocco threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake McGee with just 6 seconds remaining to pull off an exciting 41-40 victory over Miami. This week the Cavaliers will look to build momentum from that clutch performance as Virginia seeks their 3rd straight win after dropping 6 consecutive games earlier this year.

The visiting Tar Heels are looking to bounce back after an embarrassing 68-50 loss last week to Georgia Tech. North Carolina’s defense was man-handled by the Yellow Jackets rushing attack for 380 yards on the ground which also contributed to a 2-1 deficit in the time of possession battle. The Tar Heel defense has had problems all season giving up just less than 400 yards per game but completely self-destructed against the unique triple option offense of Georgia Tech. This week the defense looks for a much better performance against Virginia’s more traditional style passing offense.


Offensively, North Carolina has produced near as many yards as any other team in the ACC averaging 488 yards per game (15th in FBS). The Tar Heels are led by a dual headed monster in QB Bryn Renner and running back Giovanni Bernard. Bernard is having another outstanding season after rushing for more than 1,200 yards as freshman. This season Bernard leads the conference with 1,008 yards while averaging 7.1 yards per touch. While Bernard has been the workhorse, QB Bryn Renner has added to the offenses’ explosive capability by producing in the passing game. Renner has completed 63% passing on the season for 2,736 yards with 20 touchdowns and 7 picks. That type of balance has helped the Tar Heels maintain a 40.5 scoring average for the year (10th in FBS).

While North Carolina should be able to move the football, I should also point out that the Tar Heels have been a different team on the road losing 7 of their last 8 games. Perhaps more importantly North Carolina has also fared poorly against Virginia in recent years. The Tar Heels are just 1-7 SU and 1-7 ATS in their last 8 road trips to Virginia.

For Virginia to continue that type of success over North Carolina, they also must be able to move the football just as they did against Miami last week. The Cavaliers have not been that impressive on paper averaging 418 yards (48th in FBS) and 24.60 points per game (87th in FBS). However, Virginia has been building some momentum as I alluded to earlier. Coach Mike London has had a bit of a quarterback controversy this year in Charlottesville between Michael Rocco (61.5%, 1585yds, 12TDs, and 8 picks) and Phillip Sims (57.5%, 1203yds, 8TDs, and 4 picks).

Last week Rocco may have emerged as the leader of the offense after that game winning touchdown and a respectable outing by completing 29 of 37 passing for 300 yards (4 TDs, 0 picks). Therefore, it will be interesting to see if Rocco puts up similar numbers again this week against a North Carolina pass defense, which has posted very similar numbers to Miami, allowing 254 yards per game through the air. If Rocco is unable to deliver, I am sure that Sims will get a chance to thwart the North Carolina defense as well. However one thing that is certain no matter whom takes the snaps behind center, is that Virginia is going to have to score points to keep pace with the North Carolina offense.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This game is a complete toss-up. North Carolina has played poorly on the road and against Virginia. However, the Cavaliers are just 1-12-1 ATS in their last 14 games not to mention 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games at home. I simply cannot back either team with those types of trends. Instead I would consider a play on the ‘over’ as this could turn into another ACC shootout. Good luck!

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