Thursday, Aug.29, 6 p.m. (ET)
NCAAF Betting Odds: VietBet
Pointspread: South Carolina -11.5
Total Line: 56.5
The Tar Heels are coming off an 8-4 straight-up record in 2012 and a NCAA ban on postseason play so the expectations for a run at the Coastal Division title and a spot in this year’s ACC Championship Game are running high in Chapel Hill. The offense will once again be led by quarterback Bryn Renner, who threw for 3,356 yards and 28 touchdowns last season while completing 65.4 percent of his passes. The big question mark will be can AJ Blue fill the void in the Tar Heels’ running game left by the departure of Giovani Bernard?
It has been a rough summer for North Carolina’s defense with two projected starters already lost for the season and a growing injury list headed into this season opener. This unit gave up an average of 25.7 points a game last year which was not that bad considering that the offense was putting up an average of 40.6 points. With a number of new faces sprinkled throughout the starting lineup this squad will be tested against a very experienced South Carolina quarterback and offensive line.
The old ball coach Steve Spurrier enters his ninth season at South Carolina and could potentially have one of his best teams ever. Connor Shaw is back at quarterback and the defense is anchored by arguably the best college football player in the country Jadeveon Clowney. The Gamecocks went 11-2 SU last season and 6-2 SU in the SEC. Back-to-back losses to LSU and Florida in mid-October derailed a shot at playing for the SEC title, but this team still finished the year ranked eighth in the final AP poll.
South Carolina starts this season as the sixth-ranked team in the nation and for good reason. Shaw proved to be a duel threat last season with 1,956 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air and another 435 yards and three scores running the ball. The big news coming out of Columbia this season is Clowney leading a defense that ended 2012 ranked 13th in the country in points allowed (18.2). When you add it all up, the Gamecocks come into this opener as an elite team in the most powerful conference in college football.
Free NCAA Football Pick
North Carolina should be able to compete with the better teams in the ACC this season, but it is in over its head a bit in this matchup. The Tar Heels do not have the weapons on offense or the talent on defense to keep this game closer than 12 points over the course of four quarters making the free pick in this one South Carolina laying the points.
South Carolina 33 North Carolina 17
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