North Carolina vs

West Virginia

at Charlotte
Wed, Dec 27
2:30 PM Pacific
Rotation: 243
Odds: West Virginia -6, Total: 58

Game Analysis

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

1-Star Best Bet Team Total – West Virginia TT Over (31.5 -120)

1-Star Best Bet at Over 30.5 at -165 or better, Over 31 at -150 or better, or Over 31.5 -135 or better

Alternate play, if your book doesn’t have Team Totals, is 1-Star Over 59.5 or less

Lean – West Virginia (-6)  39   North Carolina  27

North Carolina’s quarterback Drake Maye and top WR Tez Walker have both opted out of this bowl to prepare for the NFL draft combine. Walker missed the first 4 games but led the team in receiving yards with 699 while averaging 9.9 yards per target. The pass attack didn’t get any better because they lost WR Kobe Paysour to injury after 5 games and he averaged 10.4 YPT. Now both are out, as are the top two tight ends, who combined for 864 yards at 9.8 yards per target (#3 TE averaged 9.3 YPT on 17 targets). There are only 3 wide receivers and one tight end available for this game that got a pass thrown to them this season, which certainly makes it tougher for Conner Harrell, who is expected to get his first career start (just 6 career pass attempts). Harrell will certainly be hindered by those absences and should be a significant downgrade from a two-year starter. The Tarheels’ pass attack was 1.3 yards per pass play better than average and the worst UNC quarterbacks still rate at 0.5 yppp better than average, which is also about the difference between an inexperienced quarterback and a multi-year starter. With the further downgrade of the receiving corps, I rate the North Carolina aerial attack at 0.3 yppp worse than average. The Tarheels’ rush attack is 0.7 yards per rushing play better than average (+0.6 yprp without starting C Gaynor, who opted out), so I still expect a decent offensive performance from the Heels, who should be able to run the ball on West Virginia.

West Virginia’s defense was only 0.2 yppl better than average for the season and they should be a bit worse without starting DT Mike Lockhart and backup safety Hershey McLaurin, who lost his starting spot mid-season and decided to transfer. I project 398 yards at 6.0 yppl for North Carolina, as the Heels should be able to run the ball consistently well against a worse than average WVU run defense (5.5 yprp allowed to FBS teams that would average 5.3 yprp against an average defense) that is without a starting tackle that had 9 tackles for loss.

West Virginia has an underrated offense, as the two games they played without quarterback Garrett Greene were horrible (4.0 yppl against Pitt and Texas Tech). Greene averaged 8.0 yards per pass play against FBS teams that would allow 6.0 yppp to an average quarterback and he added 700 yards on the ground at 7.0 yards per run (not including sacks, which I include in pass plays). West Virginia rates at 1.1 yards per play better than average for the season with Greene in the game and the Mountaineers scored 34 points or more in 6 of their last 7 games and should top that in this game.

The Mounties’ leading rusher CJ Donaldson has decided not to play in this game, but that is a boost to the offense given that Donaldson averaged a sub-par 4.7 ypr while Jahiem White gained 792 yards (just 6 fewer than Donaldson) on only 97 runs (74 fewer than Donaldson) for 8.2 ypr (8.0 ypr vs FBS teams). Donaldson left because White had already become the featured back in recent weeks, running for 337 yards on 38 carries in the final two regular season games. Leading receiver Devin Carter is banged up and could possibly miss this game but Carter’s 8.8 yards per target was lower than the 9.4 YPT that the other 5 wide receivers averaged this season.

North Carolina’s defense was 0.1 yards per play worse than average and I rate that unit at 0.5 yppl worse than average without leading tackler Cedric Gray, who has opted out to prepare for the NFL combine, and CB Alijah Huzzie, who led the Tarheels in interceptions (3) and total passes defended (9) but is out with an injury. I project 523 yards at 7.6 yppl for West Virginia in this game (with an adjustment for their starting center being out), as White and Greene should both put up big numbers against a weakened UNC defense that wasn’t good even with Gray and Huzzie.

I really don’t understand the low total on this game, as 56 points is just 3.2 points higher than the national average of 52.8 total points. North Carolina’s games against FBS opponents averaged 59.8 points (excluding points scored in OT) while West Virginia’s FBS games averaged a total of 57.3 points, including 63.8 total points in the game in which Garrett Greene was at quarterback. Both team’s total points scored were well above the national average. I understand that Drake Maye and some receivers are out for UNC, but North Carolina’s defense is also without two of their best players and West Virginia’s offense was significantly better if you exclude the two games without Greene. I have North Carolina’s defense gaining 41 fewer total yards than the prediction before any adjustments were made but I have West Virginia gaining 71 more yards than the non-adjusted prediction.

West Virginia faced 5 average or worse defensive teams this season (Houston, Oklahoma State, BYU, Cincinnati, and Baylor) and the Mountaineers averaged 554 total yards at 7.8 yppl in those games – so the 523 yards at 7.6 yppl that I project in this game is not unreasonable. That should net West Virginia around 40 points and the math projects 27 points for North Carolina. A 22-4-1 ATS bowl dog on a losing streak situation favor UNC a bit, so I’ll call for a 12-point win.

There is significant value on the over, but most of it comes from West Virginia’s offense, which continues to be underrated and is even better now with White as the featured back. West Virginia’s offense exceeded their Team Total in 9 of 10 games with Greene at quarterback (I excluded the game he was injured early in the first quarter) and I expect the Mountaineers to go over their team total again in this game against a worse than average North Carolina defense that allowed 7 of 11 opponents to exceed their team total, including 5 of the last 6. I also prefer the West Virginia Team Total Over, rather than the game over because it’s possible that North Carolina’s offense is much worse than I project.

Based on the historical performance of my math model on sides and totals in bowl games, West Virginia has a 65.6% chance of scoring 31 points or more and 59.0% chance of scoring 32 or more points.

West Virginia’s Team Total is a 1-Star Best Bet at Over 30.5 at -165 or better, Over 31 at -150 or better, or Over 31.5 -135 or better.

The alternate play, if you don’t have Team Totals, is 1-Star Over 59.5 or less for the game.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • North Carolina
  • West Virginia


  • Run Plays 35.4 36.6
  • Run Yards 201.5 184.5
  • YPRP 5.7 5.0


  • Pass Comp 22.9 21.0
  • Pass Att 36.8 33.4
  • Comp % 62.2% 62.9%
  • Pass Yards 298.2 247.6
  • Sacks 2.5 2.0
  • Sack Yards 11.4 13.2
  • Sack % 6.2% 5.7%
  • Pass Plays 39.3 35.4
  • Net Pass Yards 286.8 234.4
  • YPPP 7.3 6.6


  • Total Plays 74.6 72.0
  • Total Yards 488.4 418.8
  • YPPL 6.5 5.8


  • Int 0.8 0.9
  • Int % 2.2% 2.7%
  • Fumbles 0.5 0.6
  • Turnovers 1.3 1.5
  • Points 36.6 27.1
Share This