Brian Kelly’s team has their last major test of the regular season heading into the Notre Dame at North Carolina pick, which is one of the more intriguing games on the NCAA Friday slate. The Fighting Irish are ranked 2nd in the country, awaiting what seems like an inevitable rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. #25 UNC has the potential to be very pesky in this one however.
The easy pick here would be Notre Dame, especially with the line seemingly low at ND -5.5 (up from a -4 open). Does that spread raise a red flag though? The Fighting Irish have beaten every team besides Clemson and Louisville by at least 14 points, and the UNC defense has allowed 40+ points in 2 of their last 3 games. The betting total for this matchup is 69.5 points.
Notre Dame Offense Set to Feast Friday
Notre Dame has put up 45+ points in three of their last four games, and that trend should continue against a North Carolina team that has the propensity to get into shootouts. The Fighting Irish can hurt a team through the run or the pass, as evidenced by their 488 rushing yards the last two games but also QB Ian Book throwing for 280+ in 3 of the last 4.
Seeing a team with offensive balance is not good for the Tar Heels defense heading into the Notre Dame at North Carolina pick. UNC has the 7th best defense in the ACC on paper, but gave up 606 total yards vs. Wake Forest last game.
The Fighting Irish should score plenty on Friday, but what can the ND defense do against an elite UNC offense? Notre Dame has the #1 total and rushing defense in the ACC, but also gave up 31 points to Boston College last game, the second worst total offense in the conference.
North Carolina Have the Intangible Advantage?
If there’s ever a time for a Tar Heels upset this should be the week. UNC is at home where they are 4-0, both teams had last week off, and Notre Dame is a little battered on offense. Starting center Jarrett Patterson is out for the rest of the year with a foot injury, but now the Irish are going to be without 4-year starting OL Tommy Kraemer after an appendectomy as well.
Obviously it’s an assembly line of great lineman in South Bend, but RB Kyren Williams left the last game with an undisclosed injury and will now be running behind a line that is missing some key parts. That’s not good, as the Irish could find themselves in a shootout. If Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei can throw for 439 yards vs. Notre Dame in his 2nd career start, what’s in store for the great Sam Howell?
The last time we saw Howell he was throwing for a school record 550 yards with 6 TD to lead the comeback 59-53 win over Wake Forest. Howell has 23 TDs this year to just 6 INT, but what makes UNC such a deadly offense is that they can run the ball as well. Javonte Williams has topped the century mark in 5 of the last 6 games, and backfield mate Michael Carter has at least 64 in every game this season, including 214 yards vs. Virginia Tech.
Free Notre Dame at North Carolina Pick
The Fighting Irish could be in some real trouble in this game, because North Carolina isn’t out of the ACC title game picture themselves at 6-2, currently in 4th place. 61% of public bettors like Notre Dame, and with good reason as they’ve answered every question asked of them this season. UNC is just never out though – which makes a total the best play here.
Notre Dame 44 – North Carolina 41
Pick: Over 69.5