North Carolina Tar Heels vs. South Carolina Tar Heels: Duke's Mayo Bowl Prediction & Game Preview - 12/30/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Game time: 11:30 a.m. ET; Dec. 30, 2021
Venue: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Where to watch: ESPN

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: North Carolina -8.5
BetMGM: North Carolina -7.5
Caesars: North Carolina -8.5

Season record
North Carolina: 6-6
South Carolina: 6-6

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North Carolina - South Carolina preview and analysis


Imagine being told months ago that the North Carolina Tar Heels wouldn’t have a Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterback and wouldn’t be playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Only to be relegated by playing in some bowl game sponsored by Duke’s Mayo against the South Carolina Gamecocks because we can’t get enough of UNC-USC storylines going forward.

But that’s where the Tar Heels are to this point. UNC should be playing in a more high-profile game, but at least the Heels will be playing in their home state and have the unbridled home-field advantage.

That’s one advantage for the Heels. The other is the quarterback. Even though Sam Howell came crashing down this season and didn’t reach that Heisman level this year, he’s still the best option to propel the UNC offense in this bowl game. Howell is 149 yards away from a 3,000-yard season to go with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But if his production dipped, it didn’t hinder the value of his top target, Josh Downs. He’s two receptions from 100 and somehow wasn’t a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top receiver. Downs is also 27 yards from 1,300 and it wouldn’t come as a shock to see him crack double-digit touchdowns, either.

The sophomore could very well be a top receiver taken in the NFL Draft, but while one of the top receivers in the ACC (behind Pitt’s Jordan Addison) could go pro, he very well could end up like Addison next year in being the best receiver in the country.

And we didn’t even get to talking about running back Ty Chandler, a 1,000-yard ball carrier that has been a thorn in some defenses this season. This is a man that ran for 213 yards and four touchdowns in the upset win over Wake Forest on Nov. 16.

The talent discrepancy is there in this matchup. The Gamecocks don’t have much going for them. They’ve gone through four quarterbacks and haven’t found any success. Jason Brown is the one that has gotten the nod over the last few weeks, but this multi-quarterback system is not going to make things easier for this group.

ZaQuandre White is not an explosive playmaker out of the backfield. He’s only carried the ball 33 times in the last three weeks because no one really makes sense of the South Carolina playcalling. 

Prediction


This has all the makings of an easy cover for North Carolina. Even though South Carolina allows under 180 yards through the air per game, the Gamecocks can be gashed for 180 on the ground. Howell’s dual-threat ability will break this game open. North Carolina by 20

Betting trends


South Carolina is 7-16 ATS in its last 23 as an underdog and 4-19 straight up.

South Carolina is 1-7 ATS following a loss of 21 or more.

North Carolina is 17-19 ATS in its last 36 overall.

North Carolina is 11-27 ATS after gaining 275 rushing yards or more the previous game.

Statistical leaders


North Carolina:
Passing: Sam Howell – 2,851 yards, 23 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Ty Chandler – 1,063 yards, 13 TD
Receiving: Josh Downs – 1,273 yards – 8 TD

South Carolina:
Passing: Jason Brown – 721 yards, 8 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: ZaQuandre White – 583 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Josh Vann – 679 yards, 5 TD

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

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

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