No. 14 North Carolina will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss when it hosts No. 23 North Carolina State on Saturday afternoon. The Tar Heels made a big comeback against Florida State last week, but a late drop led to their first loss of the season. They have a nice chance to bounce back against a team that they beat by 31 points on the road last year.
Wolfpack without Leary due to broken legNo. 23 NC State might be one of the most surprising teams in the ACC so far this season. The Wolfpack have won three consecutive games, notching wins against No. 24 Pittsburgh, Virginia ad Duke. Last week’s game could have easily been a look-ahead spot for NC State, with this big rivalry game on deck. The Wolfpack had their worst rushing output of the season, but their running backs are still putting up really good numbers overall. Ricky Persons Jr. and Zonovan Knight have combined for 699 yards and six touchdowns on 130 carries, averaging 5.38 yards per attempt.
NC State got some bad news last week as well. Starting quarterback Devin Leary suffered a broken fibula and is likely going to be out for the rest of the season. He broke his leg after sliding down on a short run and colliding with a Duke defender, who was ejected for targeting. Junior Bailey Hockman is going to be the quarterback going forward. Hockman has completed 27 of 46 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns this season, but he has also thrown three interceptions. His numbers are very similar to last year, where he completed 54 of 97 pass attempts for 546 yards and a 1-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Hockman is going to have to play much better in this game, otherwise North Carolina can stack the box and stop the run.
North Carolina coming off disappointing lossNo. 14 North Carolina is coming off an unexpected loss in what is the team’s first setback this season. The Tar Heels entered last week with a 3-0 record, having picking up wins against Syracuse, Boston College and No. 19 Virginia Tech. They were unable to stay perfect, falling to a hapless Florida State team on the road. The Seminoles jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead before North Carolina roared back, trimming the lead to three points. A Javonte Williams drop on fourth and nine on the game’s final possession stalled the comeback attempt. Williams, a junior running back, has been one of the team’s best players and will be looking to bounce back this week.
Williams has rushed for 402 yards and seven touchdowns on 63 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He had 18 attempts for 119 yards and a score last week. This could be a big game for him, as he had 100 yards and three touchdowns last season against NC State. Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Junior wide receiver Dyami Brown has been his top target, catching 17 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Beau Corrales has added 13 grabs for 238 yards and a score. North Carolina’s offense is No. 9 in the country with 519.5 yards per game.
Stats & Trends
The under is:
- 6-1 in the last seven games between these teams
- 4-1 in North Carolina's last five home games
- 5-2 in North Carolina's last seven games overall
The under has taken some early action in the betting market and I think that is the right play here. North Carolina State’s offense takes a huge hit without Leary under center. Hockman is turnover prone, which means the coaching staff is going to avoid any explosive, deep passes in this game. The Wolfpack already like to run the ball a lot, but it is going to be even more of an emphasis in this one. North Carolina also tends to keep the ball on the ground, which means the clock is going to be moving throughout the game. The under has hit in six of the last seven head-to-head meetings between these teams.