Syracuse Orange vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Odds & Predictions

September 12, 12:00 PM EDT

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
SYR +23/UNC -23

By nearly all accounts, Mack Brown’s return to Chapel Hill was a success in 2019. After combining for just five wins from 2017-2018, the Tar Heels went 7-6 SU with a victory in the Military Bowl. More importantly, the six losses were all extremely close games decided by less than a touchdown, with two heartbreaking overtime losses mixed into the equation. Overall, North Carolina competed in every game and stood with the best in the ACC, even taking Clemson down to the wire in a mere 21-20 defeat. Now with ten starters returning on offense and a solid recruiting class in the bag, the Tar Heels look to take another step forward when the season begins against the Syracuse Orange this Saturday at Kenan Stadium.

For Syracuse, 2019 was a forgettable season. The Orange entered the season ranked inside the top 25 but suffered a mind-boggling 63-20 loss to Maryland in week 2. Just one week later, the Orange were derailed by Clemson 41-6, and then a downhill snowball effect ensued. The Orange finished the season with a measly 5-7 SU record. Needless to say, change was needed. Over the offseason, Syracuse hired new coordinators on both sides of the football. However, there have been fewer on-field opportunities this fall due to the COVID-19 conditions, which have limited the time needed to implement new systems, especially for defensive coordinator Tony White who plans to run a 3-3-5 defense. Will the Orange be ready for North Carolina? It does not exactly seem realistic.

Will the lack of practices impact Syracuse’s preparation?

Purely from a talent perspective, Syracuse returns enough key players to potentially turn things around this season. Quarterback Tommy DeVito returns following a season where he completed 63% passing for 2,360 yards with 19 touchdowns and just five picks. The backfield is relatively solid with veterans Abdul Adams and the expected emergence of Jawhar Jordan. However, there are big question marks among the offensive line, which caused tons of struggles in 2019. Additionally, DeVito will have to find a new go-to target in the passing game from the departure of WR Trishton Jackson. Jackson accounted for 66 catches and 1,023 receiving yards last season, which nearly doubled all other individual receivers in both categories.

Despite the question marks in the realm of talent, I believe the bigger question is, will Syracuse truly be prepared this Saturday to start football? Syracuse has been dealing with a lot of off-field issues involving the COVID-19 pandemic. Players have pushed for safety changes as it related to COVID-19 and reportedly have held out of several practices in August; the majority of teams around the country were preparing for the start of the season. While I understand the importance of players safety and do not condemn them for their actions, you have to believe that will impact the team's preparation this week, especially with so many changes this team has been trying to implement over the offseason.

North Carolina expected to push for ACC supremacy

If you look at the current state of the ACC, Clemson is the top-ranked team in the country and is perhaps more talented this season than some of their prior National Championship runs in recent years. Aside from Clemson, there is no clear cut 2nd best team in the ACC. Many expect North Carolina to fill that role, and I can’t say I disagree. The Tar Heels return one of the most proven offensive groups in the country. Quarterback Sam Howell returns following an impressive 2019 campaign that featured 3,641 passing yards with 38 touchdowns and just seven picks. The backfield has an elusive 1-2 punch in running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, who combined for 1,936 yards last year. Additionally, the passing attack returns both of their 1,000-yard receivers from last year in senior Dazz Newsome and junior Dyami Brown.

When you breakdown this offense, the Tar Heels appear to be the clear No. 2 team in the ACC and poised with the potential to make some noise nationally. North Carolina's schedule opens the door for immense possibilities. The Tar Heels dodge Clemson during the regular season and have a meeting with No. 10 Notre Dame towards the end of the year, which could really capture style points. My only concerns for this football team are perhaps a few uncertainties along the defensive front. The Tar Heels do not have a ton of size along the defensive line, which could cause concern when they get into physical football games. However, for this week's meeting against Syracuse, the Tar Heels seem to have the advantage in every facet of the game, which may be exposed exponentially if Syracuse is indeed unprepared.

Betting Trends

  • Syracuse is just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games and only 1-4 ATS in their previous five games on the road.
  • The total has reached the "over" in four of the last five games for Syracuse and also hit the over in four of the previous five games against ACC opponents.
  • North Carolina covered the spread in all three games in 2019 as double-digit favorites.
  • North Carolina is 4-2-1 ATS in their last seven games at home.
  • North Carolina has reached the “under” in 10 of their last 14 games at home.

Syracuse vs. North Carolina Prediction 9/12/20

I am really high on North Carolina this year and would not be surprised to see the Tar Heels perform well from the opening kick. Meanwhile, I think Syracuse needs time to turn things around, and they will be the inferior football team in this match-up on both sides of the football.

Free Pick: 
North Carolina -22