The ACC will take center stage on Friday night, as the college football weekend kicks off with an in-state battle between the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and North Carolina Tar Heels. At home, the Demon Deacons are listed as three-point favorites with an over/under of 66.5 points.
Wake Forest is arguably the most fortunate 2-0 team in the country right now. They needed a last-minute drive to avoid an upset loss at the hands of Utah State in their season opener. The Demon Deacons then had the luxury of facing Rice last week. In any event, Wake Forest is happy to start 2-0 heading into ACC play.
Meanwhile, North Carolina might be the most surprising 2-0 team in the country. They are also one of the most impressive. They overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to beat border rival South Carolina in their season opener. The Tar Heels followed that up with a home win over Miami last week. Both games were close, but UNC found a way to beat two quality teams to open the season.
Mack is Back
Mack Brown has led the resurgence at North Carolina this year. He came out of retirement to return to the school where he coached from 1988 to 1997. He built the Tar Heels into a top-10 team during the decade, and he’s quickly rebuilding at North Carolina again. A program that won just five games over the past two seasons is on the verge of starting the year 3-0 and 2-0 in conference play.
The most impressive part is that Brown is doing it with a freshman quarterback in Sam Howell. In fairness, the running back tandem of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams is carrying a lot of the load for the Tar Heels. But Howell has done his part, completing 65 percent of his passes without throwing an interception. He’s also done that against two quality defensive teams. On Friday, Howell and the Tar Heels will face a Wake Forest defense that’s been a little porous early in the season.
For the Demon Deacons, the usually potent rushing attack has been a little sluggish this season. However, quarterback Jamie Newman has stepped up to lead the offense. Newman helped Wake Forest reach a bowl game in 2018 after stepping in as the starter for the final month of the season, and he’s picked up where he left off. Newman already has over 700 passing yards in just two games.
The caveat is that Newman and the Wake Forest offense have done that against two non-power-conference teams. This week, the Demon Deacons will face a North Carolina defense that has held both South Carolina and Miami to 25 points or less. If the UNC defense can hold Wake Forest to a similar total, it should give Howell and the offense a good chance to keep this game close.
Brother vs. Brother
Not only is this a game between two North Carolina schools, but a pair of brothers will be playing one another in Wake Forest wide receiver Sage Surratt and North Carolina quarterback turned linebacker Chazz Surratt. It will be Chazz and company that go home happy. Bet on North Carolina to win as three-point underdogs.