The North Carolina Tar Heels get another season with star quarterback Drake Maye. They have an elite player at football’s most important position. Even so, they need to build around him and give him what he needs to be successful at the highest level. North Carolina did make the Orange Bowl a few seasons ago. And the Tar Heels have generated considerable excitement around their program at times. Yet, the history of North Carolina football in the 21st century is that whenever the Tar Heels are expected to do really well, they don’t reach those expectations. They more often do well when they fly under the radar.
This year, they aren’t the favorite in the ACC, but they aren’t flying under the radar, either. They have one of the top three or four quarterbacks in the country. That will put the spotlight on them all season long.
North Carolina Tar Heels 2023 Futures
Odds To Win ACC: +1100 at MyBookie Sportsbook
Odds To Win National Championship: +12000 at MyBookie Sportsbook
Best Bet To Win Heisman
Drake Maye is a top-10 Heisman candidate, priced at +1600. The main advantage Maye has in the 2023 Heisman race is that Caleb Williams, regarded by most experts as the best player in college football, has already won a Heisman Trophy. There has been only one man who has won the Heisman in back-to-back years, Archie Griffin of Ohio State in 1974 and 1975. The Heisman Trophy voters have made it a point to not vote someone for consecutive Heisman Trophies if there is any real doubt about the matter.
If someone is going to become the second two-time Heisman winner in history, that player will need to dominate the competition so thoroughly that there is no second or alternative choice. There is no possible side avenue or divergent path. There would essentially be no choice in the matter. Caleb Williams has to crush the competition to win the Heisman this year. If it’s a 50-50 shot and if there is real doubt about Williams’ season relative to every other Heisman candidate, voters are highly likely to go to the other candidate. That candidate could be Drake Maye. This is the inside track he has if he can make a strong enough case. Now, it’s up to him to speak boldly with his performance on the field. He has to force the Heisman voters to make a tough decision. If he doesn’t have a big year, he won’t create any Heisman drama.
Pick: Drake Maye
Best Player Prop To Bet
British Brooks Rushing Yards
With Drake Maye on the roster and slinging the ball all over the field, it is natural to think that North Carolina’s lead running back won’t put up huge numbers. He won’t get enough carries. He won’t be featured enough in the offense. UNC will be too busy throwing the ball this year. That makes sense and is logical. However, British Brooks – who is expected to be the starting running back for this team – was injured last season. Therefore, he is a bit of a question mark in terms of what he is capable of and how he will fit into the UNC offense.
If you get a rushing yards prop for British Brooks, it might be lower than a lot of other expected starting running backs for other teams across the country. You will want to shop around for odds. Make sure you’re getting a favorable number. If you do see an opportunity to bet the over for a British Brooks rushing yards season total, you should jump on it.
Pick: British Brooks Over Rushing Yards
Regular Season Win Total
Drake Maye is really good, but one thing about the 2023 ACC football season is worth mentioning when we discuss what is possible for North Carolina. The ACC had been using a divisional setup with the ACC Atlantic and (North Carolina’s division) the ACC Coastal. This year, the ACC is removing divisions. That means that the top two finishers in the conference will play in the ACC Championship Game this December. That’s a change from having the two division champions meet.
North Carolina won the 2022 ACC Coastal Division championship, getting a spot in the conference title game opposite Clemson. In 2023, UNC doesn’t have that same opportunity. The Tar Heels will have to finish in the top two of the ACC to make the title game. This year, Florida State has emerged as one of the top 20 teams in the country in preseason polls. The Seminoles, who won the 2013 national championship and made the first College Football Playoff in 2014, might be on the verge of returning to their previous identity as a national power. FSU might prevent North Carolina from making the ACC title game. FSU and Clemson are the two teams expected to play for the ACC title. North Carolina probably won’t get that far.
Examining The Schedule
The Tar Heels play South Carolina in a Week 1 neutral-site game. South Carolina beat Clemson and Tennessee last season and made a major national statement in the process. North Carolina will be tested in its first game of the season, and given the quality of teams South Carolina defeated last year, it’s hard to give North Carolina the benefit of the doubt in that matchup. North Carolina also hosts Minnesota in nonconference play. That game is a lot more likely to be a win for UNC.
Within the ACC schedule, the Tar Heels play their biggest games of the conference season at Pitt, at home versus Duke, at Clemson, and at NC State. Three of those four especially tough conference games are road trips, so UNC will have a tough time winning a majority of those games.
South Carolina, Clemson and NC State seem to be likely losses. UNC might split the Pitt-Duke pair of games, but the larger reality facing this team relative to its expected win total is that if it does lose the South Carolina, Clemson, and NC State games, it would have to be perfect (9-0) in the other nine games to finish over the total. The odds of UNC losing one of those nine are better than the odds of North Carolina winning all nine of those games. On that basis, take the under for the win total.