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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by October 28, 2021
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The No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1) host the North Carolina Tar Heels (4-3, 3-3 in ACC) Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Notre Dame Stadium. This game airs on NBC.

North Carolina has alternated between winning and losing in the past five games. The Tar Heels held off the Miami Hurricanes in a 45-42 win at home and failed to cover as 7.5-point favorites. UNC is 3-4 against the spread (ATS) and 4-3 Over/Under (O/U) with the 59th-toughest schedule according to USA TODAY’s Jeff Sagarin.

Notre Dame handled business at home last week with a 31-16 win over the USC Trojans as 7.5-point favorites. After a couple of 3-point victories to start the season, the Fighting Irish have won and covered four of their last five games. Notre Dame’s only loss came at home to the No. 3 Cincinnati Bearcats on Oct. 2. The Over has cashed in four of Notre Dame’s seven games this season.

The Fighting Irish played an ACC schedule last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and beat the Tar Heels 31-17 as 4.5-point road favorites. Notre Dame had nearly 200 more total yards and UNC QB Sam Howell only passed for 211 yards with 1 TD and was sacked six times.

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Details

  • Opening Line: Notre Dame -4
  • Current Line: Notre Dame -3.5
  • Total (Over/Under): 62.5

Action Report

There’s a “reverse line movement” in UNC’s direction since more than 80% of the money wagered is on Notre Dame, according to Pregame.com. Furthermore, I’m seeing a “line freeze” for the total as nearly 90% of the action is on the Over but the total hasn’t budged from the opener.

Trends

UNC head coach Mack Brown began his second stint with the Tar Heels in 2019. Since then, UNC is 4-5 ATS as an underdog, 4-7 ATS on the road, 4-3 ATS vs. ranked teams, and 2-5 ATS following a bye week.

Notre Dame is 16-14 ATS at home since 2017. Also. UNC is the Fighting Irish’s fifth opponent this season with a rest advantage. They are 2-2 ATS in the first four such games.

Handicap

I’m going to pass on betting a team in this game and instead focus on the total. If I were to play a side in this game it would be Notre Dame -3.5 but the reverse line movement is sketchy. There are a few reasons to take the UNDER 62.5 in this matchup.

First of all, Notre Dame’s solid rush defense could mitigate UNC’s awesome ground game. For instance, UNC’s offense is fourth in rushing predicted points added (PPA) and sixth in both line yards per snap and rushing success rate.

However, Notre Dame’s rush defense is 20th in success rate and the Fighting Irish have held their past four opponents to fewer than 4.0 yards per rush. Howell could be in trouble vs. Notre Dame’s defense if UNC’s ground game gets neutralized.

Also, the Fighting Irish held the Tar Heels to just 17 points and 298 total yards last year. As a matter of fact,  last year’s UNC-Notre Dame meeting went UNDER the total by 21.5 and both offenses were better than their current versions. Last season, the Tar Heels had two running backs that got drafted into the NFL. In addition, each team has trouble keeping its quarterback upright. Notre Dame ranks 109th in quarterback sacked rate and North Carolina ranks 122nd.

Finally, there’s value in fading all the pro-Over money with Notre Dame’s defense at home. The Fighting Irish have played to the Under in four of their last five home games. Moreover, UNC should bounce back vs. a mediocre Notre Dame offense. The Tar Heels have gone Under the total in seven of their past eight games after allowing 40 points the week prior.

PICK:  UNDER 62.5 (-110 on BetMGM)

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