This Saturday the Carolina’s will be glued to the TV, as the South Carolina Gamecocks face off against the North Carolina Tar Heels. The game will be played at Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers) in Charlotte. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST and will be televised on ESPN.

Oddsmakers have really adjusted this line since it came out. South Carolina opened at -7.5, but are now up to -10 at all books. The total opened at 63 and has moved up to 63.5 at a few spots.

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Betting Odds & Vegas Game Preview: South Carolina vs UNC

South Carolina Gamecocks

Gamecocks finished 2018 with a winning record at 7-6, but it’s not quite what fans were hoping for with 14 starters back and fresh off a surprising 9-win campaign in 2017. Not to mention they closed out the season with an embarrassing 28-0 loss to Virginia in the Belk Bowl.

While South Carolina was hit hard with injuries last year, it was really the schedule that did them in. All 5 of their regular-season losses came against teams that finished in the Top 20. Two of those they lost by 4 or less.

I have to think people in Columbia are excited about the potential of this year’s team, as they return 14 starters (7 offenes, 7 defense). With senior Jake Bentley back at quarterback, this should be one of the more potent Gamecocks’ offenses in recent memory. They are going to need it with another brutal schedule in 2019 that almost has 3 losses on the board before they start with games against Alabama, Clemson and Georgia.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Not a lot is expected out of the Tar Heels in 2019, but there’s definitely a buzz around the football program in Chapel Hill. That’s because former head coach Mack Brown is coming out of retirement. Brown hasn’t coached since guiding the Texas Longhorns to a 8-5 mark in 2013.

Brown will take over a team that has gone just 5-18 (2-9 last year) the past two seasons. While it might not look like a great situation, Tar Heel fans know that 5-18 record is a bit misleading. Of those 18 losses that they have suffered, 13 have come by 12-points or less, with 8 coming by a touchdown or less.

With 14 starters coming back (7 offense, 7 defense), it’s not out of the question they can get to a bowl. With that said, it won’t be easy. While they don’t face the same number of elite teams as South Carolina, 11 of their 12 games are against teams that made it to a bowl last year.

Matchup History

This will be the first meeting between these two programs since 2015. South Carolina won that contest 17-13 as a slim 1-point home favorite. They also played in 2013 and 2007. Gamecocks won 27-10 at home in 2013 as a 11-point favorite and were 21-15 victors at South Carolina as a 7-point favorite in 2007.

College Football Free Pick & Predictions: North Carolina +10

My early lean here would be to take UNC and the points. I just think the perception for most people when they look at North Carolina is that 2019 will be a rebuild and Brown will have them back to being a competitive force in 2020. I also think the public will see an SEC team against a middle of the pack ACC team and see an side with the SEC.

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I look at these two teams and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if North Carolina won this game. No disrespect to South Carolina, but I just think the Tar heels are in a much better spot than people realize.

You never know what you are going to get out of a true freshman quarterback until you see them play, but there’s reason to be optimistic that Sam Howell (first ever true freshmen to start opener at UNC) will perform at a high level. The most obvious answer is his talent. Had Jimbo Fisher not left FSU, he probably would be enrolled in Tallahassee. The kid set the North Carolina high school record for passing yards.

Second, he’s not going to have to do it all. They got a decent 0-line with a future NFL left tackle in Charlie Heck. One that will be blocking for a trio of players at running back in Michael Carter, Antonio Williams and Javonte Brown.

Third, he’s got a bright offensive minded coordinator in Phil Longo, who made a name for himself with his up-tempo attack at Sam Houston State and spent the last two years guiding a potent Ole Miss attack. Rebels averaged 33.9 ppg and 511 ypg with him calling the shots in 2018.

Lastly, the Gamecocks are at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of they don’t know really what to prepare for. South Carolina on the other hand has returning coordinators, so they will be running a lot of the same stuff on both sides.

I also want to point out that I like South Carolina quarterback Bentley. I just think that offense is going to really miss the playmaking ability of Deebo Samuel . Keep in mind this team ranked T-107th in the entire FBS with a mere 15 rushing touchdowns last year. I’d much rather back the Gamecocks as an underdog. Give me the Tar Heels +10!