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Friday night will be a huge showcase for college football, as all six teams are major programs. Our game, North Carolina at Wake Forest, will be a matchup of conference rivals and also the first game of the night (and week, for that matter). ESPN is set for broadcast the game nationally at 6:00 P.M ET.
Both teams will enter Friday’s game undefeated with perfect 2-0 records. North Carolina’s two wins, however, have a lot more cache than that of Wake Forest. The Tar Heels beat two Power-5 programs in the first two weeks, and two good ones at that: South Carolina and Miami.
Having said that, Wake Forest’s program, especially their offense, has been gradually improving since back-to-back three-win seasons in 2014 and 2015. They have the ability to win big games at home and have, including an upset of No. 14 NC State in 2017.
This game is definitely one that will get a lot of attention, and all of it is deserved.
Mack Brown Has UNC Rolling
Most people know Mack Brown from his time at Texas, where he compiled 158 wins (including 10 bowl wins) between 1998-2013, but the 10 years before Texas were spent at North Carolina, where he took the football to six straight bowl games (1992-1997) and five seasons where the Tar Heels were nationally ranked.
Now, after five wins total in the last two seasons, he’s back in the saddle at UNC for his second stint. So far, so good for Mack; the Tar Heels have as many wins now (2) as they did all last year and the two wins have been rock-solid, beating South Carolina from the SEC in Week 1 and ACC rival Miami in Week 2.
There is finally some excitement around North Carolina football.
“There’s definitely a better buzz around campus surrounding the football team,” Sam Howell told reporters on Tuesday. “That’s what happens when you win, so we need to keep that going. … It’s definitely a cool feeling. This school needs to be proud of their football team, and we’re going to make them proud.”
— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) September 10, 2019
As much as Mack Brown has helped infuse energy into the program, the same can be said for Sam Howell, their quarterback. Just a freshman, Howell has taken care of the ball in two games (zero INTs) while throwing four touchdown passes and completing 64.6 percent of his passes. Defensively, the Tar Heels have also improved; last year, they allowed 450 yards per game but through two games against two solid offenses, they’ve cut that number by 80 yards/game.
Wake Forest Has High-Powered Offense
Head coach Dave Clawson has done a great job of turning the Wake Forest program around. In his first two seasons, the Demon Deacons won six combined games, but since then they’ve steadily improved, winning bowl games in each of the last three seasons. This year, things continue headed in the right direction, as they, like UNC, have started out with a perfect 2-0 record.
Which one of these big plays from last week was your favorite? Comment below! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/20Uc372KI4
— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) September 10, 2019
In two games so far this year, the Demon Deacons have put up 79 points combined, beating Utah State 38-35 and Rice (on the road) by a 41-21 final. Compared to 2018, when they put up 440 yards per game, the 2019 offense is much improved. Right now, they have are averaging the eighth-most yards per game (546) behind a potent passing attack.
Junior quarterback Jamie Newman is the heart and soul of the offense, throwing three touchdown passes and completing more than 72 percent of his passes in each of Wake Forest’s first two games.
Defensively, they’ll need to ratchet things up against North Carolina, as they’ve allowed two lower-level FBS teams to put up big yardage totals against them. Wake Forest’s defense has allowed 458 yards per game to start the season.
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games.
- 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 games overall.
- 3-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games vs. ACC.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight-up win.
- 8-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Updated on Sep 13 at 9:20am EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Line has gone from Wake Forest -3.5 down to -3, which is consistent with the fact that the Tar Heels have grabbed 54% of the bets.
Injury / Weather Report
North Carolina’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: WR Antoine Green
Out: OL Nick Polino, DB Patrice Rene, and TE Brandon Fritts
Wake Forest’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: DL Tyler Williams
Out: WR Kendall Hinton (11 catches, 110 yards)
Gametime Weather: Mid-70s with scattered thunderstorms
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
There’s great value in North Carolina +3 on Friday night. Generally, teams get a field goal or so for home-field advantage but the interesting thing here is that Wake Forest doesn’t really play that well at home, especially against Power 5 teams. In their last six games against Power 5 programs, they haven’t won or covered a single one (0-6 SU, 0-6 ATS). On top of those eye-popping numbers, the Tar Heels are a real contender this year and rank No. 26 in Covers power rankings. By comparison, the thought is that Wake Forest’s hot start is due to weak competition and they rank 100 spots lower than UNC. This is a major opportunity to cash in; take UNC big.
Prediction: North Carolina +3
Full-Game Total Pick
In their last six home games against Power 5 programs, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons have allowed 266 points (or 44.3 per game). Through two games this year, their defense doesn’t look to be any better, allowing an absurd 546 yards per game, so you can expect the trend to continue. On the bright side, their offense has improved this season, averaging almost 40 points per game through two games. This game has OVER written all over it. When Wake Forest hosts good teams, they allow a flood of points and the game goes over. In their last 9 home games vs. a team with a winning road record, the under has hit only one time.
Prediction: Over 68