Thursday College Football Pick: UNC vs. Miami
North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Miami Hurricanes (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 5
When: Thursday September 27th, 2018. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Hard Rock Stadium Miami, F.L.
By: Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spread: UNC +18/MIA -18
The North Carolina Tar Heels finally scored a mark in the win column last week with a 38-35 victory over Pittsburgh. Despite the disappointing losses to both Cal and East Carolina, the Tar Heels are 1-0 in conference play and will have a huge opportunity to turn things around when they go on the road this Thursday as 18 point underdogs to the no. 16 Miami Hurricanes. Over the last few years despite the resurgence of The U, the Tar Heels have held the upper hand over the Canes scoring wins in 2 of the last 3 meetings. If you look back over the last 5 meetings, the Tar Heels have covered the spread 4 out of 5 times as well. However, North Carolina will have their hands full this Thursday against a more talented Hurricanes team than in years past.
Since the 33-17 loss to LSU in the season opener, Miami has stormed back to win 3 straight games thanks largely impart to an easy early schedule against the likes of Savannah State, Toledo, and Florida International. This Thursday matchup against the Tar Heels will not only be the first ACC game on the docket for the Canes but it will also be their first true test since that opener. Therefore, perhaps we will see just how good this Miami team really is. We know LSU is for real after their victory over Auburn so Miami’s loss to LSU does not look nearly as bad at this point in the season. Still, Miami has to prove their worth this Thursday in front of a nationally televised audience.
Fear the Canes D
When I look at this Thursday’s primetime matchup, the question I think that needs to be answered is “is this Miami defense legit?” The defense was the highlight of the 2017 season. They were stout against the run, physical, and a turnover machine. I think the defensive group is every bit as good this season. They gave up 33 points to LSU but that was mainly due to an offensive trainwreck. In the past 3 games against inferior opponents, the Miami defense has given up just 31 points combined.
The Canes defensive front experienced some turnover after last year’s breakout season but the back 7 are still very talented. The defensive effort will be under the microscope this week against a North Carolina offense that simply has not played well. The Tar Heels have a shaky quarterback in junior Nathan Elliott who is hovering just over a 55% completion percentage. Meanwhile, the running attack has also been somewhat questionable with juniors Antonio Williams and Jordon Brown. Therefore, this is a matchup that Miami’s defense can win at all levels. If the defensive front can get some pressure, I think they can not only shut down this North Carolina offense but someone’s going to be able to grab the turnover chain to put it around their neck.
Miami quarterback controversy
The only thing keeping me from going all-in on the Canes this Thursday is that a potential quarterback controversy has emerged. Last week, redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry replaced 5th year senior Malik Rosier after the offense’s 2nd series. Perry stole the show completing 17 of 25 passing for 224 yards with 3 touchdowns and a pick. Perry clearly looked like the better pure passer and gave the offense some juice. However, it has not been announced yet that Perry will be given the start. If the offense falls back to Rosier, I don’t like their upside near as much. Rosier’s lifetime stats in Miami barely hover about the 50% completion mark and Miami’s running attack is not as dominant as it once was. Miami should still be able to move the football as the more physical team but Perry gives the offense the spark it needs to hit big plays down the field.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: As a result of the quarterback controversy, I am going to consider a small play on Miami -18. If Perry gets the start, I believe a bigger size bet is warranted. Either way, lay the points.