Time: 3 PM ET
Spread: UNC -11
M/L: UNC -425, VIR +340
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
North Carolina is 5-2 on the season and currently sits atop the ACC Coastal Division. Last week’s 20-13 victory over then-No. 16 Miami (FL) was a huge conference win and also UNC’s last matchup with an AP ranked opponent.
It could cruise to a Coastal Division championship at this point, and that cruising will have to begin as 11-point favorites on the road at Virginia this week. The game is scheduled for 2 PM (ET) and will air on the ACC Network.
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UNC has defeated the teams it should this year, while managing to knock off two of its three ranked opponents as well. That has resulted in some kind of season, but UNC has had the offensive potential to do this. The Tar Heels rank No. 24 in the nation in passing yards with nearly 300 per game, while its rush attack lingers back at just 130.7 yards per game.
Even so, the Tar Heels hold opponents to just 28.9 points per game, which is good enough for a 3.3 point differential. It is all good enough to pull a national ranking, No. 22 in the AP Poll and No. 21 in the coaches’ poll.
The great season mostly stems from the fact that quarterback Mitch Trubisky is having a dominant year throwing the football. He already has over 2,000 yards at a 70.5 percent completion clip and 8.14 yard per attempt average. His 15 TDs and just two picks stand out as particularly impressive, as is his passer rating of 156.8. His top target has been Ryan Switzer, who has 606 yards on 58 catches and three TDs.
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Six Tar Heels have caught at least one TD pass on the year, and the top-three receivers account for 10 of those 15 team passing TDs. TJ Logan and Elijah Hood have both had success rushing the football, too, with Logan amassing 409 yards on 65 carries and Hood going for 369 yards on 80 carries. Trubisky has had minimal success on the ground, rushing for just 1.9 yards per attempt on his 52 carries this season.
Be that as it is, UNC averages 4.3 yards per carry and gets enough from its backfield to set up its dominant pass attack.
The Virginia Cavaliers have got through the soft portion of their schedule and now face back-to-back nationally ranked opponents with UNC this week and Louisville next. At 2-4, it does not stand a chance of any ACC success anyway, but the Cavaliers really shot themselves in the foot by beginning the season 0-3 with losses to the likes of Richmond and UConn (Week 2 loss to Oregon was predictable and expected).
Virginia has a successful pass attack, but much like UNC its rush game is not quite on par. The real difference of course is that the Cavaliers are a poor defensive team, which gives it far less cushion in allowing 32.3 points per game while scoring just 28.3.
Quarterback Kurt Benkert has been decent at best. He has thrown for 1,733 yards but has just a 57.2 percent completion ratio and has thrown seven picks on the year. He has 14 TDs and a still strong passer rating of 130.4, but given that the backfield is producing just 3.8 yards per carry and nine TDs on the year, and it just is not enough.
WR Olamide Zaccheaus has had a good year with 29 catches for 423 yards and five TDs, and Doni Dowling and Keeon Johnson both have caught for over 300 yards as well. Really, this is a decent offensive team that needs some strong defensive recruits to come in and turn around that end of the football. Expect UNC to have its way with Virginia’s “D” and likely find a way to cover the 11-point spread, winning by two touchdowns to improve its chances at the ACC Coastal division crown.
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