Drake Maye will attempt to lead the North Carolina Tar Heels to their first ACC football title since 1980 when they meet the Clemson Tigers Saturday in Charlotte.
The Tar Heels dropped their final two regular season games, but they did enough earlier to lock up the ACC Coastal Division and punch their ticket for Bank of America Stadium, where they will try to end a four-game losing streak to the Tigers.
Maye finished in the top 10 in the FBS in most statistical categories among quarterbacks despite struggling in the final two games. The freshman had one passing touchdown and two interceptions as the Tar Heels fell to Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, but will try to regroup against the Tigers’ mediocre pass defense.
The Tigers’ chances of making the College Football Playoff took a hit when they lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks last week, but they might be able to sneak in the back door if they can claim their sixth ACC Championship in the last seven years.
Junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei had another tough game throwing the ball and has as many interceptions (five) as touchdown passes over the last five contests.
The Tigers were able to move the ball on the ground behind Will Shipley, who recorded his fifth 100-yard game of the season to surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the year.
Downs Looks To Rebound for Tar Heels
For six games in the middle of the season, Josh Downs was one of the most productive receivers in the country, but his numbers dropped significantly in the last two games.
The junior and All-ACC first-team selection, who had a critical drop in the loss to Georgia Tech, had 60 catches for 737 yards and eight touchdowns in those six games, but he had nine catches for 82 yards and no touchdowns in the last two games.
If the Downs from earlier in the season shows up in this game, the Tar Heels have a chance to hang with the Tigers and earn their second-ever trip to the Orange Bowl.
“We haven’t been as patient (on offense). People are really backing off and trying to make us throw short,” head coach Mack Brown told the media. “We’ve got to make sure we are being patient. To do that you’ve got to catch the ball and make yards after.”
Clemson rush to get after Maye
The Tigers ratcheted up their pass rush in the final three regular-season games by generating 12 sacks, moving them to 15th in the FBS with 2.92 per game.
Myles Murphy leads the unit with 6.5 sacks, but he didn’t have any in the last three games. Trenton Simpson, Barrett Carter and leading-tackler Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. had two each and K.J. Henry had 1½ for the Tigers, who need five sacks to remain the only FBS team to have 40 in each of the last nine seasons.
Maye has been sacked 34 times this season, which ranks 98th in the FBS.
“You have to be very disciplined with your rush lanes because he’s very savvy in the pocket and he’ll step up, he’ll slide, he’ll spin out,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told the media of Maye. “He is a very good thrower on the run.”
Scoop on Free Play from the Locker Room
Clemson vs North Carolina Game Injuries
Clemson vs North Carolina Head-to-Head
Clemson and North Carolina have met once since the Tigers defeated the Tar Heels in the 2015 ACC Championship. The Tigers edged the Tar Heels 21-20 in 2019 to increase their lead in the all-time series to 38-19-1, including 2-0 in neutral site games.
Clemson vs North Carolina Information
- Game: Clemson (10-2) vs North Carolina (9-3)
- Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
- Day/Time: Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m. ET
- Clemson vs North Carolina Live Stream: ESPN
Clemson vs North Carolina Betting Lines
Clemson vs North Carolina Picks & Prediction
The Tigers have been installed as 7½-point favorites on the NCAAF lines. Clemson and North Carolina are both 6-6 against the spread this season.
The Tar Heels have given up nearly 10 more points per game than the Tigers, so their offense will need to be firing on all cylinders to have a chance to post the upset.
Clemson is listed at -300 in our Vegas NHL lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Tigers, you have a chance to win $33. North Carolina is +250, offering a chance to win $250 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Clemson a 75.00% chance to win, with North Carolina 28.57%.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.