After being trounced 52-24 by Alabama in their second game of the season, the Texas A&M Aggies (8-1) bounced back to make a case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff. They ran off seven consecutive victories — six by nine or more points — but wound up on the outside looking in. The fifth-ranked Aggies attempt to take out their aggression when they meet the No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday in the 2021 Orange Bowl. Kickoff from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla. is set for 8 p.m. ET.
The Tar Heels (8-3) won their last two regular-season games but will be severely undermanned on Saturday as wideout Dyami Brown (1,099 yards) and running backs Michael Carter (1,245) and Javonte Williams (1,140) opted out in order to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. The Aggies are 7.5-point favorites in the latest Texas A&M vs. North Carolina odds from William Hill Sportsbook, while the over-under for total points scored is 65.5. Before locking in any North Carolina vs. Texas A&M picks, be sure to check out the college football predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s Emory Hunt.
The founder of Football Gameplan, Hunt played running back at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and coached high-school football before becoming a SportsLine expert and CBS Sports HQ analyst. He enjoyed a dominant 2019 season, going 116-79 against the spread while returning nearly $3,000 to $100 bettors.
Moreover, Hunt has a keen eye for the Tar Heels’ tendencies. He’s a stunning 13-3 against the spread in his last 16 college football picks for or against North Carolina.
- Texas A&M vs. North Carolina spread: Aggies -7.5
- Texas A&M vs. North Carolina over-under: 65.5 points
- Texas A&M vs. North Carolina money line: Aggies -280, Tar Heels +230
- TEXAM: The Aggies are 11-2 against the spread in their last 13 non-conference games
- UNC: The Tar Heels are 1-4 ATS in their last five contests following a straight-up win
North Carolina Tar Heels
Why Texas A&M can cover
While North Carolina’s ground attack will be missing its top weapons, the Aggies will be firing on all cylinders. Isaiah Spiller is the team’s leading rusher, gaining 986 yards on 177 carries while running for seven touchdowns. The sophomore is 19th in the nation with an average of 109.6 yards per game and is 68 away from 2,000 for his career.
Ainias Smith has rushed for 293 yards and four scores but has proven to be even more valuable coming out of the backfield. Also a sophomore, Smith is second on the Aggies in catches (37) and receiving yards (439) while tying for the team lead with six touchdown receptions. He had his best performance in the loss to the Crimson Tide, hauling in six passes for 123 yards and a pair of scores.
Why North Carolina can cover
Sam Howell was a jack of all trades offensively in the Tar Heels’ 62-26 rout at then-No. 10 Miami on Dec. 12, and he might need to come up with an even bigger performance on Saturday. The sophomore threw a touchdown pass, ran for a TD and made a one-yard catch for a score as North Carolina posted its first win over a top-10 opponent since edging a fourth-ranked Hurricanes team 31-28 at home on Oct. 30, 2004.
With Carter (1,245 yards) and Williams (1,140) both opting out and fellow running back D.J. Jones (foot) sidelined, North Carolina needs someone to lead the ground attack. The options include freshman Elijah Green, sophomore Josh Henderson and junior British Brooks, who have gained a total of 147 yards on 31 carries this season. Howell is third on the team with 121 rushing yards and five TDs.
How to make Texas A&M vs. North Carolina picks
Hunt is leaning under the total, and he’s also found a critical X-factor he believes makes one side of the spread a must-back. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Texas A&M vs. North Carolina in the Orange Bowl? And what crucial X-factor causes one side of the spread to hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to jump all over Saturday, all from the Tar Heels expert who is 13-3 in his last 16 spread picks involving North Carolina.