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Orange Bowl: Texas A&M vs. North Carolina odds, preview, and pick

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December 28th, 2020

The No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (8-1) will take on the No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-3) in the 87th annual Orange Bowl on Saturday night (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN). Texas A&M, considered by many to be deserving of a spot in the College Football Playoff, are sizable favorites in what amounts to a consolation game for the school. Can North Carolina keep it close? Here’s our wagering preview.

Sun, January 3 2021, 1:00 AM

North Carolina Tar Heels

Moneyline

+195

Spread

+7.5

Total

O 67.5

Texas A&M Aggies

Moneyline

-265

Spread

-7.5

Total

U 67.5

Aggies impressed down the stretch

Texas A&M had a bumpy beginning to 2020, narrowly beating Vanderbilt in their season opener before getting thumped by No. 1 Alabama, 52-24. But since then, the Aggies have reeled off seven straight victories. That includes their 41-38 triumph over a ranked Florida program.

Jimbo Fisher’s offense is a balanced one, with sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller setting things up for senior quarterback Kellen Mond. Spiller rushed for 986 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. Mond completed 63.5% of his throws for 7.6 yards per attempt. He tossed 19 touchdowns compared to only three interceptions.

Texas A&M and North Carolina statistics and rankings

Team NamePassing YardsRushing YardsPassing Yards AllowedRushing Yards Allowed
Texas A&M Aggies
234.3, 57th
202.9, 27th
224.3, 59th
92.2, 5th
North Carolina Tar Heels
307.4, 18th
250.9, 10th
261.2, 106th
148.9, 49th

Tar Heels’ offense is tough to tame

There were times this season when North Carolina’s offense looked like the best in the country.

Their prowess was on full display in their most recent outing, as they crushed No. 10 Miami 62-26. Tar Heels tailbacks Michael Carter and Javonte Williams combined for 544 rushing yards in that tilt, an NCAA record. Unfortunately for Mack Brown’s squad, Carter has opted out of the Orange Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Texas A&M's fifth-ranked rushing defense by yards allowed per game should offer a stern challenge for this unit.

North Carolina’s offense is far from one-dimensional though. Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell was terrific in 2020, completing 69.1% of his passes for 10.6 yards per attempt. He threw 27 touchdowns but only six interceptions.

However, Howell will be without his favorite target in wide-out Dyami Brown, who is also looking ahead to the NFL Draft.

North Carolina’s defense could be overwhelmed

The Tar Heels’ stoppers were fairly porous at times this season. They ranked 76th in the nation in points allowed per game (30.3) in the regular season. North Carolina will play without sensational linebacker Chazz Surratt, who like Carter and Brown, is skipping this game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Texas A&M does not have the most potent offense in the country, but this looks like a soft matchup for a school used to playing the in rough-and-tumble SEC.

Will Texas A&M cover in the Orange Bowl?

Trends say take Texas A&M

The Aggies are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 non-conference games, and have covered in each of their last four ACC matchups. They’re also 20-9-1 ATS in their last 30 games as a favorite.

The Tar Heels have dropped four straight ATS following a spread victory.

Score prediction: Texas A&M 38, North Carolina 24

NCAAF Pick: Texas A&M -7.5


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