Tar Heels +17: UNC vs. Notre Dame College Football Picks

Darin Zank

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 2:32 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 2:32 PM UTC

Notre Dame, always a public betting favorite, is 4-1 ATS this season; North Carolina, on the other hand, has been the worst team in CFB to bet on this year, going 0-5 ATS. The Irish are solid favorites for Saturday afternoon's meeting with the Tar Heels in South Bend.

The Betting Odds
Most online sportsbooks opened this game with Notre Dame favored by around 16.5 points, the total proffered at 61. Into mid-week the spread had held steady, while the total had been bet up to 62.5.

Those who believe North Carolina has a chance to win this game outright could get a price of +625 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.

We break down this matchup to help you locate which betting options look to offer the best value for our college football picks.

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Heels-Irish: Game Set-Up
Notre Dame is 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS on the season, coming off a clutch win at home last week over Stanford. For the moment the Irish still have their eyes on the big prize; a berth in this year's college football championship playoff.

Notre Dame opened with a win and cover over Rice, then blanked Michigan 31-0, then beat Purdue 30-14 but couldn't cover as a 30-point favorite. The Irish then won at Syracuse 31-15, covering at -10, and last week edged Stanford 17-14 on an Everett Golson touchdown pass on fourth-and-11 with a minute to go.

Notre Dame outgained the Cardinal 370-205, but needed a key pass interference call and Golson's heroics to pull out the victory.

So far this year Golson has completed 64 percent of his passes, compiled a 13/3 TD/INT ratio and run for four scores.

North Carolina, meanwhile, is 2-3 SU, 0-5 ATS, and ranks among the most disappointing teams in college football so far. The Heels were supposed to contend for the ACC Coastal Division title; instead, they've lost three straight games, and started 0-2 in ACC play.

Carolina opened with wins over Liberty and San Diego State, but covered neither spread as a favorite of 30 and 14 points. The Heels then blew a gasket and gave up 70 points in a loss to East Carolina. They then began ACC play by giving up 50 in a loss at Clemson. And last week they fell behind Virginia Tech 24-3 on their way to a 34-17 defeat.

UNC lost the time-of-possession battle last week by a lopsided 41-19 margin. And it's tough to score points, win games and cover spreads when you only have the ball for 19 minutes.

Three weeks ago the Heels gave up 789 yards of offense in a game they were favored by a point over ECU; two weeks ago they gave up 528 yards to Clemson; last week they “held” the Hokies to 357 yards. Hey, at least they're getting better.

On the season Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams, with 11 career starts to his credit, has completed 61 percent of his throws, for a 9/4 TD/INT ratio, and leads the team in rushing with 243 yards.


Heels-Irish: A New Rivalry
These programs used to meet fairly regularly from the 1940s into the 1960s, with Notre Dame, of course, dominating the series. Later they went 30 years without playing, until the Irish won a 45-26 game in South Bend in 2006. North Carolina then won for the second time in 18 tries against Notre Dame in 2008, a 29-24 decision in Chapel Hill.

Saturday will be the first meeting between the teams since then, and the first as ACC foes.


Heels-Irish Betting Trends
Twelve of the last 16 games played at Notre Dame Stadium have stayed UNDER on the totals.

The Irish are 1-4 on the totals this season, mainly because they've held opponents to just 12 points per game.

Notre Dame is 10-11 ATS as a double-digit favorite under Coach Kelly.

The Irish are 15-1 SU, 10-5-1 ATS in games Golson has started.

Carolina is 0-2 ATS as a double-digit dog under Coach Fedora.


Personnel Update
The Irish are still without five players, two or three of whom would be starting, as that academic fraud case plays out. There's a chance good news – or bad – could come down before this game, but any impact that might have on the outcome is total speculation.


Heels-Irish Free Pick
Can the Tar Heels play up to some of those preseason expectations? If this game were lined before the season started the Irish might only be favored by a touchdown or so. We're not sure if Carolina is going to come around and play some decent ball this year or not, but now would be a good time to start. In believing these teams are a little closer talent-wise than that spread might indicate we'll take the Tar Heels, plus the 17 points offered at Jazz Sports, for our free pick.

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