Texas A&M vs

North Carolina

at Miami Garden
Sat, Jan 2
5:00 PM Pacific
Rotation: 497
Odds: North Carolina +7.5, Total: 67.5

Game Analysis

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Best Bet – *Under (67.5) – Texas A&M (-7.5)  34   North Carolina  25

My math model would have clearly leaned under in this game even without the absence of North Carolina’s 3 big play opt outs on offense and the market has not only not adjusted enough for those absences but also hasn’t taken into account how slow paced this game is likely to be.

Texas A&M runs their offense at a very deliberate tempo, averaging just 1.93 plays per minute of possession (excluding kneel downs and quarterback spikes) while averaging 34.9 minutes of possession per game. That’s a lot of slow offense being run, which will limit the number of possessions that North Carolina’s offense will have in this game. North Carolina is a high scoring team (42.4 points per game) but the Tarheels actually run their offense at a slightly slower than average 2.26 plays per minute and UNC will be without 3 big play performers, as star running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, and top receiver Dyami Brown, have all left the team to prepare for the NFL combine.

Carter and Williams combined for 2385 rushing yards at 7.6 yards per rush and backup RB D.J. Jones is also out with an injury. That leaves 3 inexperienced backs that have combined for 147 yards on 31 runs (4.7 ypr) this season. I assume that running behind the starting offensive line, which obviously has been very good, will allow those backs to perform better than their combined 4.7 ypr and I will assume that those backs would have averaged 6.1 ypr if they were playing with the starters all season, although I think it’s likely to be lower than that. I also assumed that North Carolina will throw the ball more often without their two star running backs to lean on, which will help their offense overcome some of the loss. However, not having Brown, who had 1099 receiving yards at an elite 13.1 yards per target, is a significant blow to a very good aerial attack. The rest of the wide receivers, excluding Beau Corrales, who averaged 11.9 YPT and also won’t play, combined for 10.0 yards per target, which is still very good, but the difference equates to 0.8 yards per pass play, which is a bit more than 2 points per game. The absence of two elite running backs is worth about 3 points, even if I assume that the inexperienced remaining backs would have averaged 6.1 ypr this season in their place, which is likely too high. The total loss on offense of those 3 players isn’t worth 5 points in terms of the side, as North Carolina should have more plays than the model would otherwise project with less big plays likely.

North Carolina’s offense has been among the best in the nation on a compensated yards per play basis (8.0 yppl against teams that would allow 5.8 yppl to an average team) but I rate that attack as 0.9 yppl worse without their 3 big play weapons – although still a very good +1.3 yppl. Texas A&M has been 0.9 yppl better than average defensively this season, so the Tarheels should still have an advantage moving the ball and I project 6.1 yppl for UNC in this game. However, Texas A&M’s extremely slow pace will limit North Carolina’s possessions and I project just 60 plays for the Heels in this game (A&M’s average plays allowed is just 58.4 plays) – for 366 total yards.

North Carolina isn’t likely to have one of those huge rushing games without Williams and Carter (4 times they range for over 300 yards at 7.0 yprp or higher) and quarterback Sam Howell isn’t likely to average 10.0 yards per pass play or more, which he did on 4 occasions, without Brown’s big pass plays, as Brown averaged 164 receiving yards and 25.2 yards per reception in those 4 games. In the 4 games this season in which North Carolina didn’t rush for 7.0 yprp or more or average 10.0 yppp or more they averaged a modest 25.5 points, which is about what I expect from them in this game.

Texas A&M has an efficient offense that averaged 6.5 yards per play (against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team) but the Aggies averaged only 31.7 points per game because of their slow pace of play and lack of big plays – the Aggies’ longest pass play was 52 yards, and that was from a rarely used running back that had just 3 receptions all season, and their longest run was just 57 yards. North Carolina was only average defensively this season (5.8 yppl allowed to offenses that would combine to average 5.8 yppl against an average team) and they’re projected to be about 0.3 yppl worse without star LB Chazz Surratt, who led the team in tackles and sacks but left the team to prepare for the NFL draft. His loss is not nearly as meaningful as the Tarheels’ losses on offense but Texas A&M should take advantage of a now worse than average UNC defense and I project 463 yards at 7.0 yppl for the Aggies in this game.

Both teams should move the ball pretty well (6.6 yppl combined is projected) but Texas A&M only averaged a combined 125.9 plays from scrimmage per game and I project 126.3 total plays in this game against a UNC team that I think is perceived to have a fast paced offense because they’re so explosive (although less so now) but actually run their attack at a slightly slower than average tempo. Despite their explosive offense and mediocre defense North Carolina’s games only reached 60 total points or more in 6 of 10 games while Texas A&M games only exceeded 51 points 3 times in 9 games. A&M did allow 52 points to Alabama and 38 points to Florida (which is actually good against a team that averaged 50 points per game) but North Carolina without their 3 stars is not as good offensively as those teams.

A compensated total points model would have projected just 64.5 total points even before adjusting for all the offensive talent that North Carolina lost and I project just 59 total points (60.5 using an adjusted points model) in this game assuming neutral weather (which is expected as of Monday morning).

The Under is a 1-Star Best Bet at 66 points or higher and the Under would be a Strong Opinion down to 65 points.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Texas A&M
  • North Carolina


  • Run Plays 36.4 24.9
  • Run Yards 207.1 94.0
  • YPRP 5.8 4.5


  • Pass Comp 19.2 19.8
  • Pass Att 30.4 30.9
  • Comp % 63.1% 64.0%
  • Pass Yards 229.8 224.9
  • Sacks 0.6 2.7
  • Sack Yards 3.1 17.4
  • Sack % 1.8% 8.0%
  • Pass Plays 31.0 33.6
  • Net Pass Yards 226.7 207.5
  • YPPP 7.3 6.2


  • Total Plays 67.4 58.5
  • Total Yards 436.9 318.9
  • YPPL 6.5 5.5


  • Int 0.4 1.0
  • Int % 1.4% 3.2%
  • Fumbles 0.4 0.4
  • Turnovers 0.9 1.4
  • Points 31.7 21.1
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