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North Carolina vs. Syracuse,
10-20-2018 - Expert Prediction

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Game Snapshot with Current Line

#317 North Carolina
Tar Heels 64
#318 Syracuse
Orange -10

Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 12:20pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

Game Stats

North Carolina Tar Heels

1 - 4

2-2
ATS
3-2
O/U
20
PPG
33
OPPG

Syracuse Orange

4 - 2

4-2
ATS
3-3
O/U
42
PPG
25
OPPG

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It’s a crossover matchup in ACC action coming to you from the Empire State. The North Carolina Tar Heels make the long trek up the east coast as they battle the Syracuse Orange Saturday afternoon. North Carolina battled but came up on the short end of a 22-19 decision at home against Virginia Tech last Saturday. Syracuse is coming off a bye last week: they fell 44-37 in overtime on the road to Pitt back on October 6 in their last contest for their second straight defeat. The teams have split four previous meetings with Syracuse taking a 49-47 shootout on the road in the last meeting on September 6, 2003.

North Carolina Tar Heels Try to Get Back in Win Column

North Carolina played an inspired contest against Virginia Tech in front of their home crowd but couldn’t make the last critical play late. The Tar Heels gave up the game-winning score with just 19 seconds to play in regulation to wipe away their chances at an upset win. Virginia Tech’s late score put a damper on the fact that North Carolina had a 522-375 advantage in total offense, a narrow 21-20 edge in first downs and a 30:35 to 29:25 nod in time of possession. The one category that hurt the Tar Heels were turnovers: they committed two in the game. Virginia Tech’s drive to the game-winning score covered 18 plays, 98 yards and 5:54: North Carolina gave up three third down conversions and a fourth down conversion on the drive. That it came after a fumble on the Virginia Tech 1 was more galling.

The Tar Heels are 82nd in the FBS in passing offense as they average 217 yards per game through the air and 48th in rushing with 189.6 yards per contest. North Carolina is 120th in scoring offense as they put up 20.6 points per contest and a miserable 104th in scoring defense as they allow 33.8 points a game. Nathan Elliott is 86 of 144 passing for 920 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Cade Fortin is 13 of 24 for 112 yards. Chazz Surratt has completed four of 10 passes for 10 yards with three interceptions while adding 69 yards and a score on the ground. Surratt tore ligaments in his hand against Miami and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Jordon Brown is third on the Tar Heels on the ground with 36 carries for 143 yards plus two scores while Antonio Williams has a team-leading 308 yards and three scores on 50 attempts this season. Michael Carter has run the ball 31 times for 268 yards this season. Anthony Ratliff-Williams (16 receptions, team-high 275 yards, two TD) and Dazz Newsome (18 catches, 181 yards) are the top two receivers for the Tar Heels on the year. Freeman Jones has hit all 10 extra point attempts and 11 of 15 field goals this season with a long of 49 this season.

Syracuse Orange Look to Remain Unbeaten at Home

Syracuse had the bye last week and it came at a good time for the team, who dropped two straight close games after starting the season with four straight wins. The Orange now tries to regroup and pick up their fifth win of the season, including their third at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse gave up the tying field goal with eight seconds to play in regulation and then couldn’t match Pitt’s touchdown in overtime. The Orange lost the total offense battle 402-384 and the time of possession by a 37:24 to 27:36 margin despite holding a 20-18 advantage in first downs. Both teams committed three turnovers in the contest: Syracuse did allow a scoop six in the first half of the contest.

The Orange is 67th in the FBS in passing offense as they average 237.7 yards per game through the air while they stand 25th in rushing offense by putting up 227 yards per game on the ground. Syracuse is 11th in scoring offense by putting up 43 points per contest while they are 62nd by allowing 25.2 points a game. Eric Dungey is 102 of 172 passing for 1,208 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He is leading the team with 435 yards and seven scores on the ground as well. Tommy DeVito is 17 of 34 for 218 yards plus a score while adding 21 rushing yards and a score. Moe Neal contributes 86 carries for 403 yards plus two scores. Jarveon Howard (31 carries, 205 yards, two TD) and Dontae Strickland (49 carries, 220 yards, five TD) are solid backs. Jamal Custis is second on the Orange with 25 catches for 430 yards plus three touchdowns. Sean Riley (26 grabs, 246 yards, two TD) and Nykeim Johnson (17 grabs, 218 yards, TD) are very good secondary options in the passing attack. Andre Szymt has hit all 30 extra points and 16 of 17 field goal attempts with a long of 54 this season.

The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

North Carolina played better defensively against Virginia Tech but that game was at home. Even with their improved play, the Tar Heels still gave up a 98 yard touchdown drive that ended up turning a win into a loss. Syracuse struggled throwing the ball a bit against Pitt but that was more due to the weather than anything else as there was plenty of rain that day. The Orange has to be better against the run than they were in their last two games if they want to pick up the win. In the end, North Carolina’s soft defense and their penchant for turning the ball over (13 giveaways vs. only five takeaways) helps the Orange come up with the home victory.

Prediction: Syracuse Orange -10

Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

North Carolina played better defensively last week but their offense still is lagging. Surratt is done for the year now at QB, which means that Larry Fedora has to decide if Elliott or Fortin is his choice under center. Syracuse missed a chance to beat Clemson on the road before falling in overtime to Pitt. In both of those games, the Orange held a lead late in the fourth quarter on the road but were unable to maintain it in the dying moments of the contest. With this one at home, can Syracuse take and hold a lead until the final gun to avoid a third straight defeat?

The under is 10-1 in the Tar Heels’ last 11 games in October and 15-6 in their last 21 after running for at least 200 yards in their last game. Syracuse has seen the under go 6-1 in their last seven in October, 5-1 in their last six against teams with a losing record, 5-1 in their last six at home against teams with a losing road record, 13-3-1 in their last 17 at home and 12-3-1 in their last 16 after a straight up loss. Given the way things have gone at times, Syracuse should get their points but it’s tough to gauge what North Carolina will do. Look for this one to fall just under the number.

Prediction: Under 63

Half-Time Side Pick
Rating:

Before their solid defensive showing against Virginia Tech, the Tar Heels were a train wreck defensively, especially in the second quarter of games. It’s going to take more than one performance for anyone to buy into Larry Fedora’s team as turning a corner and magically finding something that was lacking all season. Syracuse had two weeks to stew about back to back narrow losses and they’re ready to get back in the win column. Dino Babers has the Orange ready to go and they jump all over North Carolina early to take the edge at the half.

Prediction: Syracuse Orange -6.5

Half-Time Total Bet
Rating:

Syracuse can move the ball quickly and strike in a flash offensively when things break their way. Facing a North Carolina team that has been defensively challenged is a nice break for the Orange, who had to deal with Clemson before facing Pitt and then the bye. The Tar Heels’ defense is going to have to do whatever it can to try and limit the damage that Syracuse puts on the board because the offense is going to struggle. This one stays under the total at the half as Syracuse ends up with a few field goals as drives bog down before they hit the end zone.

Prediction: Under 34.5

Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.

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