Don't tell anyone, but the North Carolina Tar Heels have been a pretty good bet at home recently, covering the spread in 13 of their last 18 games in Chapel Hill.
The Heels will try to extend that run Saturday afternoon when they welcome in the Aztecs from San Diego State to Kenan Memorial Stadium.
Point spread: Tar Heels opened as 15.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The total was hovering near 60 points. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 38.7-25.0 UNC
Why the San Diego State Aztecs can cover the spread
The Aztecs opened this season with a 38-7 win over FCS Northern Arizona, covering as 18-point favorites. They had the spread taken care of by halftime with a 24-0 lead, then closed things out from there.
San Diego State rushed for 194 yards and went 6 for 12 on third-down conversions, spreading the ball around as 12 different players either ran the ball or caught it. The Aztecs only returned 10 starters this year, but one is senior QB Quinn Kaehler, another is thousand-yard receiver Ezell Ruffin and three more are along the offensive line.
San Diego State has taken advantage of being a big dog over recent seasons, going 5-1 ATS the last six times it's been dogged by two touchdowns or more, per the Odds Shark database Also, the Aztecs catch a break in that this game starts at 8 p.m. local time instead of something closer to noon local, which would be breakfast time on the West Coast.
Why the North Carolina Tar Heels can cover the spread
The Tar Heels began 2014 with a 56-29 victory over FCS Liberty, although they couldn't quite cover the line as 30-point chalk. Carolina gave up nine points on defense and even trailed early in the third quarter, but they roared back to score 35 of the last 42 points of the game.
The Heels ran the ball for 208 yards, threw it for 235 more and forced six turnovers. But they committed four of their own to go along with 10 penalties. They're better than that, though. Carolina returned 15 this year, including their starting quarterback, four along the offensive line and seven on defense.
In two seasons under head coach Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels have been favored by two touchdowns or more seven times; they're 5-2 ATS in those spots.
North Carolina has the edge on both sides of the line of scrimmage and should win this game. The only matter will be the margin of victory.
The Heels are 10-4 ATS at home under Fedora, and the last time a team from west of the Mississippi visited Chapel Hill, Carolina sent Idaho home with a 66-0 defeat two years ago. If the Tar Heels can eliminate the turnovers and the penalties, or at least minimize them, they should be fine.
So the pick here is with North Carolina minus the points.
- San Diego State is 4-1 SU in its last five road games
- North Carolina is 13-5 ATS in its past 18 home games
Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered first-hand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates, and get the free odds tracker app.