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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Free Pick 9/7/13

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (1-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (0-1)

NCAAF Football: Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm (Kenan Stadium)

The Line: North Carolina Tar Heels -21 -- Over/Under: 65 See the Latest Odds

TV: Gameplan/ESPN 3

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders visit North Carolina to play the Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off a 27-10 loss at South Carolina on Thursday night. North Carolina fell behind 17-0 after one quarter and could never get back in the game. The Tar Heels were outgained 406 to 293, while the Gamecocks ran for 228 yards against the North Carolina defense. North Carolina turned the ball over once on a punt return and converted 7 of 19 3rd down conversions. QB Renner threw for only 194 yards on 43 attempts and one touchdown. WR Davis caught the touchdown pass and led the team in receiving with 4 catches for 39 yards, while WR Ebron caught 3 balls for 32 yards. North Carolina had trouble establishing a run game, as RB Morris carried the ball 15 times for 69 yards and RB Blue carried the ball 8 times for 37 yards. The Tar Heel offensive line was no match for South Carolina’s front seven, led by DE Clowney. However, Tar Heel LT Hurst, an all-ACC player with NFL hopes of his own, did a solid job keeping Clowney in check for most of the game. Overall, I don’t think UNC was embarrassed on the road against an outstanding Gamecock squad. I believe the Tar Heels will bounce back and the offense, led by the Renner/Davis combo and the Morris/Blue backfield, will be explosive moving forward. The defense, on the other hand, showed that they have a vulnerable secondary and run defense.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Free Pick 9/7/13

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders beat West Carolina 45-24 in their season opener on Thursday night. RB Pratcher rushed for two touchdowns and 71 yards and the Blue Raiders won their first game as a Conference USA member. RB Parker ran for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, sparking Middle Tennessee’s 28 -0 run before West Carolina kicked a field goal in the second half. Parker finished with 156 yards on 22 carries and QB Kilgore was 12 for 18 for 144 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the Blue Raiders outgained West Carolina 475 to 371, while each team turned the ball over twice. Middle Tennessee has an experienced offensive line as four starters return from last season. Kilgore has thrown for more than 4,800 yards and 34 touchdowns over the past two seasons, but he lacks depth at receiver this season. WR Clarke, Jefferson, and Perkins will have to step up this week because UNC will force the Blue Raiders to pass. If Middle Tennessee can establish the run against the Tar Heels, this game could be a high scoring affair. Defensively, the Blue Raiders secondary is weak, to say the least, and they are in for a long day against the Tar Heels.

I think both offenses will find a way to put up a bunch of points in this game. North Carolina will be looking to rebound off the loss to South Carolina, where they only scored 10 points. Renner and Davis will connect numerous times in this game, while Morris and Blue will break off some huge gains on the ground. On the other side, the Blue Raiders will find some running room against a questionable Tar Heel defensive front. I think North Carolina has its way in this one and gets the win, but I believe Middle Tennessee will have their share of highlights as well and won’t go down without a fight.

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OVER 65; Lean UNC -21

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