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ACC action here as the North Carolina Tar Heels will travel northeast to take on the Syracuse Orange in upstate New York. The two squads are in similar spots, with both coming off back-to-back losses. It’s arguably a must-win for both sides if they want to save their 2018 seasons, and the drama should make for a great game. Oddsmakers have installed the Orange as 9.5 point favorites here.
UNC Looking To Avoid Lost Season
UNC hasn’t been to competitive this year. Their record is just 1-4, and they’ve lost the four games by a combined 69 points. In their second to last game, they were blown out 47-10 by Miami. They’ve failed to generate much offense this year, and struggle especially trying to pass the ball.
They have a very murky quarterback situation, and it’s unclear who’s going to start here. Nathan Elliott had been the starter, but due to his ineffectiveness he was benched for true freshman Cade Fortin last week. Fortin was promptly injured, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be able to play Saturday.
Oddsmakers clearly aren’t too concerned about who is under center for the Tar Heels, but I think Fortin is the much better option. He looked more competent in his one half of action against Virginia Tech than Elliott has all season.
A loss here, and UNC’s season is just about over. With a few tough games left to play, North Carolina will stand almost no chance of making a bowl game if they lose here. This game is essentially their Super Bowl, and it will be fascinating to see how they respond to all the adversity.
Syracuse Starting To Fade
Syracuse’s bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. After starting the season 4-0, the team blew a late lead over Clemson in a game they led from almost start to finish. It was a devastating collapse, and the team carried a hangover into their next game, a surprising loss to Pitt.
The bye last week gave them a chance to regroup, and they could come out of it re-energized. Coach Dino Barbers wasn’t giving his players any breaks, and chose to make them work hard during the bye.
“We had an opportunity to be hard or be nice” Barbers declared at his weekly press conference, “and I decided to be hard on them.” It’s what you like to hear from a head coach, and Barbers should have his players ready and prepared if nothing else.
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 21, 2017
The team’s fearless leader is senior quarterback Eric Dungey, who can get it done both through the air and on the ground. Dungey is seemingly always playing through some type of injury, and is a true warrior out on the field. He struggled against Pitt, and should be in line for a bounce back game here. UNC’s defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody recently, even weaker opponents like Eastern Carolina, and Syracuse should have no problem putting up points.
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games in October
Tar Heels are:
- 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 games on fieldturf
- 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This feels like the perfect rebound spot for Syracuse here, at home against a weak opponent. They had the bye week to put the near-upset of Clemson behind them, and should be focused and prepared for this game. Dungey should have a big day and UNC’s offense will remain anemic no matter who is under center. While UNC has shown some heart recently, I still think Syracuse will win big here.
Prediction: Syracuse -9.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Syracuse’s defense has simply been a sieve all season. While I think Syracuse will win comfortably, they should still allow UNC to put up some points, especially if Fortin plays. You might want to check back in closer to kickoff to see if Fortin is able to give it a go, and if he is, then the over is a great play.
Half-Time Side Pick
I like Syracuse a lot in the first half. They’ve shown an ability to start hot all season, even jumping out to a big early lead against Clemson, and that should continue here. Syracuse will have no problem scoring early on, and should easily lead by at least a touchdown entering the break.
Prediction: Syracuse -6.5
Half-Time Total Bet
I think this game will fly over the total, both in the first half and full game. Both offenses will be aggressive early, looking to take shots down the field. Syracuse should get up big right away, and North Carolina will be forced to play catchup and start chucking the ball.
Prediction: Over 35.5