The No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels are looking to stay undefeated when they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET) at Kenan Memorial Stadium.
The Minnesota vs North Carolina odds have seen a lot of movement on the Tar Heels, who have gone from 4.5 to 7.5-point favorites (-115) since last weekend. The Tar Heels are also -280 to win outright. Meanwhile, Minnesota is +7.5 (-105) against the spread and +235 on the moneyline. The projected total has remained relatively steady at 50.5 (-110 Over, -110 Under).
Who has the edge? Read on as we break down the Minnesota vs North Carolina odds in our game preview.
Location: Kenan Memorial Stadium; Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are just 1-4 against the spread over their last five games. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Tar Heels have covered the spread just twice in their last six contests. Both NCAAF teams have gone Under the projected total in six of their last eight games. That’s important to remember when assessing the Minnesota vs North Carolina odds.
Tar Heels De-emphasizing Maye?
The North Carolina Tar Heels narrowly avoided a season-altering defeat last Saturday, needing double overtime as a 19.5-point favorite to knock off Appalachian State, 40-34. Omarion Hampton ultimately saved the Tar Heels, who dropped three spots to No. 20 in the AP Top 25 poll. He rushed 26 times for 234 yards and three touchdowns, including a 17-yarder to even it 34-34 in overtime, according to college football scores. Quarterback Drake Maye did the rest, as his 13-yard run won it.
As the Tar Heels’ focus shifts to Minnesota, much of the attention remains on Maye. Through two games, the Tar Heels are 66th in passing offense and Maye’s productivity is down. He’s completed 72.5% of his passes but is averaging just 238.5 yards with two touchdowns. As a result, he’s seen his Heisman Trophy odds plummet from +1400 to +400 per NCAA football odds.
Now, Maye — a projected Top 10 NFL pick — hasn’t necessarily struggled. It’s just that, with opponents game planning for him, the Tar Heels have placed a bigger emphasis on running the ball. And that showed on the NCAAF schedule against Appalachian State. The Tar Heels are averaging 243.5 yards on the ground, ninth-most in FBS. Expect them to stick with that approach, especially in wake of receiver Devontez “Tez” Walker’s failed appeal. The NCAA ruled Thursday that Walker, a transfer from Kent State, will not be granted immediate eligibility this season.
Nevertheless, oddsmakers remain optimistic about the Tar Heels (1-1 ATS). They’re priced +1000 to win the ACC, one of four programs with 10/1 odds or better alongside Florida State (-120), Clemson (+500) and Miami (+700).
Golden Gophers Living on the Ground
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are coming off a 25-6 win over Eastern Michigan, though they failed to cover the spread for the second straight week.
Minnesota continues to be fueled by a strong rushing attack, led by Darius Taylor and Sean Tyler. Both are averaging 5.0 yards per carry and have helped take the pressure off redshirt sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis, who is still settling in at quarterback. Kaliakmanis did lead the Golden Gophers to a fourth-quarter comeback against Nebraska, where he threw for 196 yards and one touchdown. But for the most part, the Golden Gophers have maintained their identity as a run-first offense.
The Golden Gophers rank 53rd in the country, averaging 175.5 rushing yards per game. Conversely, they’re just 120th in passing (156.5). Will that change? Probably not. This is who the Golden Gophers are. Better yet, this is who they’ve always been. Mohamed Ibrahim, their top rusher in 2022, was third in FBS with 1,665 yards.
Minnesota is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons that culminated with bowl victories. They’ve made a steady climb under head coach P.J. Fleck. But their ceiling does appear to be a bit limited. The Golden Gophers are +2800 to win the Big Ten, well behind the top-tiered programs. However, projected for 6.5 wins, they should have little trouble getting to another bowl.
Handicapping the Game
This is all about Maye. If he’s able to settle in and do what most expect, it should be enough for North Carolina to hold off Minnesota at home. The Tar Heels are dynamic offensively, and Maye deserves credit for helping them avoid an upset against Appalachian State.
But the Golden Gophers are capable of keeping this close, especially if their rushing attack remains effective. Look for them to stay within a touchdown, even if they fail to win outright.