NCAA Football: Georgia State Panthers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 11, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 11, 2021
Venue: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
Where to watch: ESPN3

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: North Carolina -25.5; O/U 66; UNC -3000, GST +1300
BetMGM: North Carolina -26; O/U NA; UNC -2500, GST +1100
Caesars: North Carolina -26; O/U 66; UNC -4500, GST +1500

Season record
Georgia State: 0-1
No. 24 North Carolina: 0-1 (0-1)

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Georgia State - North Carolina preview and analysis

Recent form
Georgia State: lost 43-10 vs. Army on Sept. 4
UNC: lost 17-10 at Virginia Tech on Sept. 3

We should’ve had a feeling the moment “Enter Sandman” hit and the folks in Blacksburg started partying in the biggest mosh pit ever that it would be over for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The sun is out on a new week for the Tar Heels, but gloomy days still might be on the horizon until Saturday. After losing 17-10 to the Virginia Tech Hokies to open the season last time out, the Tar Heels fell to No. 24 in the AP Top 25; a whopping 14 spots from where they started.

That escalated quickly.

Which is why we all need to say a hearty prayer for the Georgia State Panthers, who now have to walk into Chapel Hill and face the angriest of college football teams.

Now, this isn’t to discredit the Panthers on their recent run of success they’ve had. We’re talking four bowl appearances in six years, two of them wins. It certainly helps to be a run-of-the-mill team in the Sun Belt conference.

But the Panthers are able to reach the pinnacle of that success by way of conference play, because non-conference teams are destroying them. The Army Black Knights ran the triple option all over Georgia State, winning 43-10 in Week 1. Army ran for 258 yards and four touchdowns, all while holding Georgia State to 177 total yards on offense.

You try convincing that locker room that things will be different against North Carolina.

Virginia Tech was able to do something not many thought possible; it contained Sam Howell and intercepted him three times. The Heisman Trophy candidate saw a hit to his race with that performance, but all signs point to bouncing back in this one.

If there’s one positive North Carolina can take out of last week’s debacle is that defense is strong. The Heels’ defense held the Hokies to under 300 yards and even outgained VT by 58. A stingy defense combined with a mad offense. This could get ugly.


North Carolina was 3-0 against the spread last season off a straight-up loss. The margins of those wins were 40, 32 and 27 points. Given the fact UNC is 9-1 straight up in its last 10 home openers and that Mack Brown is 7-3 against the spread when favored by double digits, we like North Carolina to dominate this matchup and end this game by the second quarter. North Carolina by 28.

Betting trends

Georgia State is 13-9 against the spread in its last 22.

UNC is 8-9 against the spread in its last 17.

Players to watch

Georgia State: Jamari Thrash was quarterback Cornelious Brown’s favorite target against Army. Although Brown had no touchdowns (one interception), Thrash caught seven of Brown’s 12 completions for 87 yards.

North Carolina: Despite Sam Howell’s rough day, Josh Downs made up for it. Downs had eight catches for 123 yards and a touchdown against Virginia Tech. Also look for Emery Simmons (3 catches, 46 yards) to bounce back on Saturday night

Statistical leaders

Georgia State:
Passing: Cornelius Brown IV -- 129 yards, 1 INT
Rushing: Destin Coates -- 48 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Jamari Thrash -- 87 yards
Defense: Jordan Veneziale -- 8 tackles

North Carolina:
Passing: Sam Howell -- 208 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Ty Chandler -- 66 yards
Receiving: Josh Downs -- 123 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Eugene Asante -- 7 tackles

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All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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