NC State and North Carolina

No. 23 NC State vs. No. 14 North Carolina | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on October 23, 2020

Tobacco Road rivals No. 23 NC State and No. 14 North Carolina very rarely meet as ranked teams, but they will in a big ACC game on Saturday afternoon with the Tar Heels off a stunning loss that dropped them in the polls. They are still solid NCAAF betting favorites here.

How to Bet NC State at North Carolina NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, noon ET
  • Where: Kenan Stadium
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: UNC -15.5 (total 61)

Last Meeting

Last year, NC State ended on a six-game skid and was routed 41-10 at home by North Carolina in the season finale. Heels QB Sam Howell threw for a career-best 401 yards. After a costly first-half interception, Howell threw three second-half touchdown passes as UNC overcame a 10-6 halftime deficit with 28 third-quarter points. The Tar Heels intercepted Devin Leary twice and recovered a Zonovan Knight fumble in the third quarter, when Javonte Williams ran for two scores and caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Howell.

Saturday’s game at Chapel Hill will mark the 110th meeting in the series. The rivalry, which began in 1894, is the Wolfpack’s oldest among ACC teams and the fourth-most played series in the ACC.  Although the Tar Heels hold a 67-36-6 overall lead in the history of the series, NC State has won nine of the past 13 this century.

Why Bet on NC State? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

This will mark only the third time the two teams have met when both were ranked in the top 25. In 1993 the Wolfpack was ranked 19th while the Heels were 18th and in 1979 the teams were ranked 15th and 19th. The Pack lost both of those contests. The last time NC State played a ranked UNC team in Chapel Hill, the Wolfpack won 41-0 (2008).

NC State (4-1) beat Duke 31-20 last week but also lost starting QB Devin Leary. For the second straight game, the Pack recorded three interceptions. It marked the most INTs in back-to-back games since the 2015 Wolfpack defense picked off both Boston College and Florida State three times each in consecutive games.

Payton Wilson was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week. Wilson finished with a game-high 19 tackles, the most for a Pack player since Earl Wolff also had 19 vs. Clemson in 2012. Wilson also recorded two interceptions, the most for a Wolfpack linebacker in the same game since Jerod Fernandez had two against Florida State in 2014. He currently leads the ACC in tackles per game (11.0), a mark that ranks sixth nationally.

However, Leary was lost for the game with 55 seconds left in the third quarter and the Pack up 21-20. As he was sliding down, Duke safety Lummie Young hit him in the head. Leary’s ankle twisted awkwardly under him, and he stayed down on the field for several minutes. He was carted off the field. Leary is expected to be out four to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken left fibula on Sunday.

Leary threw for 879 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions so far this season. Bailey Hockman will start in his place. Hockman started the first two games of the season with mixed results. Thus far this season, Hockman has gone 27-of-46 for 316 passing yards for two touchdowns and three interceptions in three games. Hockman has also rushed for a touchdown.

NC State has scored 19 times in its 21 trips inside the red zone – scoring at an 90.5% clip to rank 25th nationally. Sixteen of those 21 scores have been touchdowns – the No. 8 mark nationally. However, NC State is drawing 8.8 penalties per game and a whopping 83.2 average yards penalized. That mark puts NC State dead last in the ACC, 68th nationally, in yards penalized per game.

Why Bet on North Carolina? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

The Heels (3-1) were upset 31-28 at Florida State last Saturday to fall from No. 5 in the AP Top 25 to No. 14. North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell led three second-half touchdown drives to pull to 31-28, but the Tar Heels had drops on third and fourth down in the final seconds to end the comeback bid.

Howell completed 20 of 36 yards for 374 yards against the Seminoles, whom he was committed to for about six months in 2018 before signing with North Carolina just weeks after Mack Brown was hired. North Carolina was 13th in FBS in third-down conversions (51%) coming into the game, but the Tar Heels were just 2 of 11 on third-down conversions and 0 for 3 on fourth-down tries.

Javonte Williams scored his ACC-leading seventh rushing touchdown and added a receiving TD to give him nine total TDs this season. He also piled up 98 yards on the ground in the first half. Williams went over 100 yards rushing in a game for the fourth time in his career. He finished the night with 119 yards on 19 carries. Williams is tied for the lead among Power 5 running backs with 28 first downs in 2020.

Williams is tied third with 16 runs of 10+ yards. Williams and Clemson’s Travis Etienne are the only two running backs in the country that have compiled over 400 rushing yards and over 200 receiving yards this season.

Carolina boasts the top running back tandem in all of college football in the likes of Williams, a junior, and senior Michael Carter. They are the only pair of teammates nationally to average more than 100 yards rushing per game (among teams that have played more than one game). The two have combined to average 220 yards on the ground this season. Carter is 7th in the nation with 119.5 yards, while Williams is 19th with 100.5 yards per game.

Since the return of Coach Brown in 2019, Carolina owns a 10-7 overall record. All seven losses have been by seven points or less with two setbacks coming in overtime.

Game Trends

  • Wolfpack are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
  • Underdog is 12-5 ATS in their last 17 meetings.
  • Under is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.
  • Road team is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
  • Expert Prediction
  • North Carolina 39, NC State 27

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