North Carolina dominates the football rivalry with Duke, winning 23 of the last 26 meetings straight up. But the Blue Devils, in keeping many recent meetings close—and winning a couple—are 8-6 against the spread over the last 14 encounters. UNC and Duke hook up for the 96th time Thursday night in Durham.
Point spread: The Tar Heels opened as 10.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks Odds Shark monitors. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 37.7-26.4 Tar Heels (College football picks on every game)
Why the North Carolina Tar Heels can cover the spread
The Heels are 3-0 both SU and against the spread over their last three games, after beating Georgia Tech last week 48-20. North Carolina took a 7-0 lead two minutes into the game on a short Elijah Hood touchdown run. UNC later secured the victory and the cover as a 13-point favorite by scoring the last 21 points.
On the day, the Tar Heels racked up 636 yards of total offense, 283 on the ground and 353 through the air. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 329 yards and a touchdown and now owns a 19-2 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio on the season. Meanwhile, Hood ran for 168 yards and three scores, and wide receiver Bug Howard caught six balls for 120 yards, his third-straight 100-yard receiving effort.
Three weeks ago, North Carolina won at Virginia 35-14, covering at minus-10. Just before that, the Heels won outright at Miami 20-13 as six-point dogs. At 5-1 in conference play, UNC is tied with the Hokies for first place in the Coastal Division, although it must overcome the tiebreaker if it wants to repeat as division champion.
Why the Duke Blue Devils can cover the spread
Duke is only 3-6 SU this season but 6-3 ATS. In fact, the Blue Devils have lost three games in a row outright but covered four in a row. They fell after at home last week to Virginia Tech 24-21 but cashed in as 12-point dogs. Duke trailed the Hokies at the half 21-7 but pulled to within 24-21 with seven minutes to go, although it could get no closer.
By the numbers, the Blue Devils played Virginia Tech about even. But on the key play of the game with the score tied at 7-7 early in the second quarter, Virginia Tech blocked Duke’s short field-goal attempt and returned the ball 75 yards for a touchdown.
Two weeks ago, the Blue Devils lost at Georgia Tech 38-35 but covered a six-point spread. Just before that, the Devils lost at Louisville 24-14 but covered easily a 35-point spread.
North Carolina has outgained its last three opponents, while Duke has been outgained its last four times out. Also, the Heels are already 4-0 both SU and ATS on the road this season. And finally, UNC has won the last two meetings with the Blue Devils by an average score of 55-25. The Tar Heels might not win by 30 on Thursday night, but they are the better wager at online sports betting sites.
The visiting team is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games in this matchup.
The total has gone under in Duke’s last six games at home.
Duke is 4-0 ATS in its last four games after a loss.
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