The No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels look to prove that they belong in the top-5 against the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee. North Carolina has their best ranking since 1997. That was Mack Brown’s final season at North Carolina in his first tenure. He took on the head coaching job at Texas where he had a lot of success. Brown is back where it all started, and he has this team playing at a high level.
North Carolina are coming off a 56-45 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies last week at home. They’ve won with a little bit of everything so far. In Week 1, North Carolina used their defense to defeat Syracuse, 31-6, and then a 26-22 win the following week over Boston College. They needed to bring out the offensive guns last week against a much better offense in Virginia Tech.
That’s a pretty good sign for North Carolina when you can win low-scoring slugfests, or outshoot a team on a high-scoring affair. Sam Howell was efficient with 257 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. The UNC ground game did the brunt of the work, though, as Michael Carter and Javonte Williams pounded the Hokies into submission at a clip of 383 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
Virginia Tech had no answers on defense, but they were able to keep up with their offense. The Hokies were able to take advantage of a spotty UNC defense. Khalil Herbert ran for 138 yards on 7.7 yards per carry for 2 touchdowns. That was the first competent offense that the Tar Heels had to deal with and it was a serious letdown after they handled Syracuse and Boston College rather easily in the first two weeks.
There is no competition for Clemson in the ACC right now, but hopefully North Carolina can provide some form of a threat. Clemson and UNC met in the 2015 ACC Championship in a competitive game. The Tigers ultimately pulled it out by a score of 45-38, but it was a nice effort by the No. 8 Tar Heels to keep it competitive with No. 1 Clemson in 2015. This Clemson team may be even better than the 2015 edition of the Tigers, and I don’t know if UNC are as good, however.
Florida State provided Notre Dame with a fight for a half last week. They were going punch for punch with the Notre Dame offense, but the better team ultimately edged ahead in the second for a 42-26 win. At least there have been some positives to find with Jordan Travis at quarterback for the Seminoles. Since he took over in the Jacksonville State game two weeks ago, Florida State has looked much crisper. Head below for our free North Carolina vs. Florida State pick for October 17, 2020.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Florida State Seminoles NCAAF Betting Odds:
North Carolina vs. Florida State Prediction:
Sam Howell was an electric freshman for the Tar Heels. He jumped right into the offense and threw for 38 touchdowns and 7 interceptions with 3,641 yards. Howell completed 61.4% of his passes as a freshman, and has been more accurate through three games with 68.7% passes hitting his targets.
He enters Saturday with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on the season. He had a tough opener against Syracuse, but shook off the rust in his next two performances. Expect to continue to see Howell trending in the right direction as the season progresses.
With the workhorses he has in the backfield, he’s not going to be depended on to do it alone, though. After getting gashed by Notre Dame on the ground last week, the Seminoles are likely going to be in for another long night against the run on Saturday night. The Tar Heels have averaged 245 yards per game on the ground, which puts them in the top-10.
Michael Carter is averaging a whopping 10.3 yards per carry with 413 yards and 2 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the other lead running back in the offense, Javonte Williams, has notched 283 yards for 6.3 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns. There isn’t much that can slow those two down. Clemson will have a clue on how to stop that, but I don’t believe Florida State will.
The Seminoles have been getting pushed around on the ground at a clip of 194.3 yards allowed per game. Overall, Florida State has yielded 33.5 points per game. Georgia Tech, who were lost offensively in Week 1, is the only FBS opponent that they’ve looked impressive against defensively thus far. Even FCS foe Jacksonville State was moving the ball and scored 24 points on their defense.
Like I said, I’ve liked what the Florida State offense has been doing since Jordan Travis has been the starter at quarterback. Travis got the offense going against Jacksonville State, and then he was moving the ball on a good Notre Dame defense last week. Travis has gained 235 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns in a game and a half, and has passed for 426 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
The first decent offense the Tar Heels played was last week against the Hokies and that didn’t go very well in a 56-45 shootout. Khalil Herbert had a field day for Virginia Tech, as he romped for 139 yards on 7.7 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns. Two other ball carriers were able to find the end zone for Virginia Tech. The Seminoles likely don’t score 45 points, but with Travis at the controls again, the offense should look respectable. We aren’t seeing 101 points, though probably enough to get this OVER 64.5.