As we move into the later portion of the college football bowl schedule, the more prestigious teams are starting to take the field, and this week that includes North Carolina and Oregon in this year’s Holiday Bowl on Wednesday.
The game features two of the nation’s more exciting quarterbacks on the same field: for Oregon, the dynamic Bo Nix, coming off by far his best season as a collegian; and for North Carolina, the sport’s fourth-most productive passer in Drake Maye.
Going bowling: College football bowl game schedule for 2022
Nix could have entered the 2023 NFL Draft but elected to return to Oregon next season instead, while Maye is not yet eligible to turn pro, but his decision to remain at Carolina was met with relief from the Tar Heel faithful after it was rumored that he could have entered the transfer portal instead.
Now both come into the Holiday Bowl to give us a preview of two potential Heisman Trophy finalists for next season and a glimpse of what the sport could look like when things kick off next fall.
When: Wed., Dec. 28
Time: 8 p.m. Eastern
TV: Fox network
Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game lines courtesy of SI Sportsbook and may change after publication
Point spread: Oregon -13 (-110) | North Carolina +13 (-118)
Total: 76 points | Over -110 | Under -118
Moneyline: Oregon -568 | North Carolina +370
FPI prediction: Oregon has the 69.5 percent chance to win the game outright, compared to North Carolina at 30.5 percent, according to the Football Power Index computer prediction model that picks winners by simulating teams’ seasons 20,000 times.
Spread consensus pick: Oregon -13
More: North Carolina vs. Oregon Holiday Bowl picks, predictions
+ Carolina is 5-7-1 against the spread overall this season
+ Tar Heels are 0-4 ATS in their last four games on natural grass
+ The under is 5-1 in UNC’s last 6 after allowing more than 280 passing yards last time out
+ Carolina is 0-4 against the spread in their last four games on grass
+ Ducks are 8-4 against the spread overall this year
+ Oregon is 6-1 against the spread in its last 7 games after an ATS loss
+ Ducks are 4-0 ATS when favored by 14 or more points at any time
+ The over was 7-5 in Oregon’s games but it only hit the over once in the last four games
Oregon wins if: It has the ball last. Neither of these defenses are what you would call good, but Carolina’s unit is especially poor in most phases. It doesn’t generate a lot of pressure in the pocket, isn’t great at creating takeaways, and was the ACC’s worst in both scoring and yards allowed. Nix should find a lot of holes and have the time to take his pick in intermediate range against a secondary missing several of its most experienced pieces, and plenty of running lanes against the front seven.
North Carolina wins if: It wins the third down battle and balances things out. Oregon mirrors the Tar Heels in terms of subpar defense in most respects, but its biggest weakness is defending third downs, ranking 118th by allowing 6.5 conversions per game and allow opponents to move the chains 48.97 percent of the time, 127th nationally.
Oregon is 118th against the pass overall, setting up what should be a productive day for Drake Maye, even without receiver Josh Downs, but notably UNC is 8-1 when running for 120 yards or more. Just a moderate effort to move the ball on the ground is a huge help.
These are two defenses that didn’t do much during the regular season and now after suffering transfers and NFL Draft opt-outs didn’t get any better.
And they’re going against a pair of quarterbacks who have the skill sets to establish pace early and make a good impression for next season. All of which adds up to what should be a fun shootout to help close out the year.
The game could tilt heavily in one way if one of the offenses isn’t able to play catch up with the other. In that situation, the Ducks are better equipped to respond, given UNC not having Josh Downs, and Oregon’s slim advantage on the defensive side of the ball.
College Football HQ Holiday Bowl prediction: Oregon 40, North Carolina 30 (North Carolina +13, Under 76)
More college football from SI: Top 25 Rankings | Schedule | All Teams
THE FLATS – Six student-athletes have officially been added to Georgia Tech football’s roster for the 2024 season. The Yellow Jackets’ latest additions
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN: Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines host East Carolina on September 9 in a game ... [+] that includes at $1.8 million payout. (Photo by Greg
The former president of the latest version of the United States Football League is launching a spring football league for high school players.Brian Woods, who s
Larry Johnson got his first crack at Tywone Malone well over two years ago. But due in part to the four-star defensive tack