Virginia Cavaliers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview and Pick – Point Spread – Betting Odds

Virginia Cavaliers (0-3 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (3-1 SU, 1-2 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 3, 2009, Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C. TV: Raycom
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Virginia +13/North Carolina -13
Over/Under: 40.5

Bet this game at a sportsbook that has SWEET underdog betting odds: Bodog (Can get your Visa to work too!)

When Virginia opened its season with a 26-14 loss to FCS team William & Mary, it was apparent that the Cavaliers would not have a great season. So far, that has been true. The Cavaliers are now 0-3 after losses to TCU and Southern Miss. Now, they get into ACC play with a road game at nationally ranked North Carolina.

The No. 22 Tar Heels started off 3-0 with wins over Citadel, UConn and East Carolina, but then lost their ACC opener 24-7 at Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels have scored a combined 19 points in their two road games against Georgia Tech and UConn. The 24 points they gave up to the Yellow Jackets were the most points they gave up this season, so the Tar Heels defense isn’t looking impressive.

Cornerback Charles Brown and safety Deunta Williams each have a pair of interceptions in the first four games. The UNC defense has given up just 132 passing yards per game, sixth best in the nation, and only one passing touchdown.

Virginia is yet to put together a consistent passing or running attack. Quarterback Jameel Sewell pretty much controls the Virginia offense. The Cavaliers have a run a total of 194 plays, and Sewell is responsible for 138 of them. He has attempted 81 passes and completed barely over half of them (41) for 512 yards, while throwing more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4). He also leads the team in rushing with 57 carries for 98 yards, averaging just 1.7 yards-per-carry, and three touchdowns. The 56 non-Sewell carries have totaled 187 yards. The team’s next leading rusher, Mikell Simpson (13 carries, 64 yards) is questionable for Saturday’s game with a leg injury.

In Virginia’s best offensive showing of the season, a 37-34 loss to Southern Miss, the Cavaliers were able to move the ball because Sewell threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns, plus he ran for two more touchdowns. Sewell is clearly the key to the Virginia offense, and if UNC can contain him the Cavaliers will have a tough time scoring points.

In North Carolina’s first loss on Saturday, Georgia Tech ran the ball 66 times for 322 yards. The Tar Heels gave up just 89 yards, but that’s because the Yellow Jackets were having so much success running the ball and they only attempted 11 passes.

The real reason UNC lost that game was due to a lack of offense. The Tar Heels ran for 45 yards and quarterback T.J. Yates was 11-for-26 for 137 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

The Tar Heels win most of their games because of strong defense. But they are capable of putting some points on the board. In their win over East Carolina, Yates was 19-for-24 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. His main target was wide receiver Erik Highsmith, who had six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.


UNC can run the ball a little as well. Shaun Draughn, who has 60 carries for 249 yards, is the main running back. Ryan Houston (6-foot-2, 250 lbs.), who has 31 carries for 143 yards and four touchdowns, is the short yardage running back.

Virginia has won six of the last seven matchups between these two teams. The Cavaliers are 10-1 ATS in the last 11 games between Virginia and North Carolina. Virginia won this game last year, 16-13, at home when the Tar Heels were ranked No. 18. The last four meetings between these teams have all been fairly low scoring. All four games had a total of 42 points or less, including a 7-5 win by UNC in 2005, the only time UNC beat Virginia in the last seven meetings.

Ryno’s Pick: It’s difficult to go against a strong trend like 10-1, Virginia’s record against UNC in their last 11 games against each other. But Virginia has a worse team this season than normal. The Cavaliers played better in their last two games but they still shouldn’t be good enough to beat North Carolina on the road, especially when the Tar Heels are coming off a loss and are looking to bounce back with their first ACC win. UNC has a strong enough defense to shut down Sewell, which would essentially shut down the Virginia offense. Even so, the Cavaliers could easily play well enough to stay within 13 points. But the Cavaliers have such a bad offense that the safer choice would be to play the under. Take the under of 40.5.