- Texas A&M is a 7.5-point favorite against North Carolina in the Orange Bowl on Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
- Texas A&M felt they should have received a berth in the College Football Playoff after going 8-1 in the regular season
- North Carolina’s leading rusher (Michael Carter) and receiver (Dyami Brown) have opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft
After getting snubbed for a berth in the College Football Playoff field, #5 Texas A&M wraps up its season by playing #13 North Carolina in the Orange Bowl at 8 PM EST Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Texas A&M is 8-1 and has won seven games in a row since taking its lone loss to #1 Alabama 52-24 on Oct. 3. The Aggies have a 5-4 mark against the spread and are a touchdown favorite in this matchup.
North Carolina is 8-3 straight up and 5-6 against the spread. The Tar Heels finished the regular season in impressive fashion at Hard Rock Stadium, routing Miami 62-26 as three-point underdogs.
Texas A&M vs North Carolina Orange Bowl Odds
|Texas A&M||-280||-7.5 (-104)||Over 65.5 (-110)|
|North Carolina||+220||+7.5 (-118)||Under 65.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 31 from FanDuel
‘Joke’ Not Funny for Aggies
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has said all the right things about how his team is excited to be playing in a game with the tradition of the Orange Bowl.
However, the Aggies and quarterback Kellen Mond did not hide their feelings when they found out they did not make the four-team CFP field. Notre Dame got the fourth and final spot despite losing 34-10 to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
— K M o n d (@TheKellenMond) December 20, 2020
CFP selection committee chairman Gary Barta said the deciding factor in choosing Notre Dame, ironically, was that it had a 31-17 road victory over North Carolina during Thanksgiving weekend.
Working against Texas A&M is that it finished second to Florida in the SEC East and did not get a chance to avenge its ugly loss to Alabama in the conference title game.
Texas A&M could go one of two ways against North Carolina from an attitude standpoint. The Aggies might be motivated to show the nation they were wronged by the snub or play with a lack of intensity in what amounts to a consolation game.
UNC Steps Up
Conversely, North Carolina is excited to be in a New Year’s Six Bowl. This will be the first time the Tar Heels have played in a major bowl since the 1950 Cotton Bowl.
Reaching this point is another sign of how quickly Mack Brown has turned things around in two seasons of his second stint at North Carolina. He has made football fun in Chapel Hill.
A little trickery from Mack Brown and the Tar Heels 🔥 pic.twitter.com/frqoPiQHVv
— ESPN (@espn) December 12, 2020
The Tar Heels had back-to-back nine-loss seasons in 2017 and 2018 under Larry Fedora. Brown guided them to a 7-6 record last season and now North Carolina has taken another step up.
However, North Carolina will not be at full strength after three players opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft, including running back Michael Carter. He rushed for 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns on 156 carries.
Double jump cut from UNC running back Michael Carter. That’s pretty. pic.twitter.com/MwrRaKXn9d
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) December 23, 2020
Also leaving the team were wide receiver Dyami Brown and linebacker Chazz Surratt. Brown is Tar Heels’ top receiver with 55 catches for 1,099 yards and eight TDs.
Both teams have top-flight quarterbacks and standout running backs.
Mond is a four-year starter at QB for Texas A&M. He has a career-best 63.5 completion percentage this season while passing for 2,050 yards and 19 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
THIS GAME 😮
Kellen Mond drops a 51-yard dime and Florida-Texas A&M is going down to the wire on ESPN! pic.twitter.com/GW0Sj2TSz8
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 10, 2020
Isiah Spiller gives the Aggies a balanced attack with 993 yards rushing and seven TDs in 176 attempts.
North Carolina sophomore quarterback Sam Howell has completed 69.1% percent of his throws for 3,352 yards and 27 touchdowns with six picks.
We get to watch Sam Howell play today
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 27, 2020
Though Carter is gone, the Tar Heels still have Javonte Williams in their backfield. He has scored 22 touchdowns, including 19 on the ground, in 11 games in 2020 while rushing for 1,140 yards.
The First Time
This will be the first meeting between Texas A&M and North Carolina, though both coaches are familiar with the opposing programs. Brown faced the Aggies in the Big 12 while at Texas and Fisher went up against the Tar Heels in the ACC when he coached Florida State.
This game could come down to psychology. It seems North Carolina has more reason to be excited about playing in this game than Texas A&M.
Pick: North Carolina +7.5 (-115)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.