North Carolina is ranked No. 12 and travels north to face Boston College in the Tar Heels ACC road opener. Can the Eagles engineer the upset and move into the Top 25 themselves?
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Boston College Eagles
Saturday, October 03, 2020 – 03:30 PM EDT at Alumni Stadium
This will be just North Carolina’s second game since beating Syracuse three weeks ago this coming Saturday. The Tar Heels were supposed to face Charlotte on Sept. 19, but coronavirus concerns related to the 49ers offensive line wiped that out. Coach Mack Brown and his athletic director worked the phones to line up another opponent for the following Saturday but nothing came together.
Boston College played well in their upset at Duke. Last week at home against Texas State, the Eagles were outgained by 60 yards by the Bobcats and needed a 17-0 run in the final 15:12 to escape 24-21 and 21.5-point home favorites. YouWager has college football odds showing North Carolina as 14-point road faves with a total of 55.
North Carolina Scouting Report
North Carolina has a prized possession in quarterback Sam Howell. The sophomore has shown he has NFL qualities, able to make throws of various lengths with good zip on his passes and mobile enough to escape trouble.
Howell showed in the win over Syracuse, despite two interceptions, he was not rattled and completed 26 passes to nine different pass-catchers, which limits opponents from trying to key on a couple of receivers. Running back Michael Carter is an exceptional dual-threat. The senior caught six balls for 60 yards and averaged 11.1 yards a carry in seven attempts against Syracuse.
With as bad as the Orange offensive line was, coach Brown went on the attack defensively and his Heels had seven sacks in holding them to 202 yards. In watching the Tar Heels defense, your eyes will be drawn to All-ACC linebacker Chazz Surratt. Linebacker is the strength of the UNC defense and his running mates Jeremiah Gemmel and freshman Kaimon Rucker are very disruptive and make a number of tackles. With Boston College averaging only 2.5 yards a carry, North Carolina will look to put B.C. in third and long repeatedly.
Boston College Scouting Report
Expectations were low for Boston College coming into the season, picked last or next to last in most pre-season publications. Coming off a 4-8 campaign and 1-7 in the ACC, that led to a coaching change. Though Jeff Hafley was co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, he didn’t arrive in Bean Town with a big splash. Though the Eagles lacked much fire until late against Texas State, watching how this team is playing, they are much more organized and purposeful and are headed in the right direction under their new coach.
The offense is under the direction of sophomore transfer Phil Jurkovec (Notre Dame), who has a lively arm and can get the pigskin down the field. Jurkovec and the offense have gotten off to slow starts in both contests. He’s picked up his game in the second half each time and led his team to victory.
Jurkovec has already mastered one part of his game, learning to use the tight end and Hunter Long has 16 receptions. Zay Flowers has seven catches and is the main deep threat. The Eagles defense faces a stern test in this matchup. Hafley stop-troops to this juncture have given up some yards, yet, prevented big plays and have held their own. We will learn a great deal more about the B.C. defense this week.
What Side Should You Be Looking At?
In reviewing all aspects of this ACC encounter for college football picks, a few elements stand out. Coach Brown has a very good vibe on his team since returning to Chapel Hill. He came out Monday and talked about despite the long layoff, he felt his team would be ready and anxious to play. North Carolina might have early rust, but Boston College has stumbled in a pair of first halves with only 14 total points.
With no running game for the Eagles and Jurkovec sacked eight times already, if the Tar Heels are up 10 to 13 points at the half, chances are they only play better and bring a heavy pass rush to throw off the timing of Jurkovec in the last two quarters.
Brown has shown a real aggressiveness since coming back to UNC and his players are responding. North Carolina has covered five in a row as favorites and is 21-7 ATS after allowing 275 or fewer yards. With the Heels 8-2 ATS after permitting 20 or fewer points, they win by 17 or more.