This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
Holiday Bowl Picks: Oregon vs. UNC Best Bets
The Oregon Ducks enter their bowl game matchup losing two of their last three contests. The Ducks dropped a home game as 12-point favorites to the Washington Huskies, losing 37-34 on November 12th, then lost to in-state rival Oregon State Beavers on the road in Corvallis, 38-34 on November 26th.
The North Carolina Tar Heels also enter their bowl game matchup on a low-note, losing their last three contests, including a big upset loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets; UNC was set as 22-point favorites in that ACC-Conference matchup.
Despite the disappointing finish to both of these teams' regular seasons, they're each led by quarterbacks that had Heisman Trophy aspirations at some point in 2022. Oregon's Bo Nix completed 71.5 percent of his passes for 3,388 yards, 27 touchdowns to six interceptions, and also added another 504 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. North Carolina's freshman signal-caller Drake Maye completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 4,115 yards, 35 touchdowns to seven interceptions, and collected 653 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Regardless of which side you bet on, the Holiday Bowl should be an entertaining contest.
Oregon vs. UNC Odds for the Holiday Bowl
Spread: Oregon -14.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Total: 75 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Moneyline: Oregon -580, UNC +420 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
The Holiday Bowl currently has a total of 75, the highest remaining total of the Bowl Season schedule. For a frame of reference, Oregon has played in seven games this season where the total eclipsed 70 points, and UNC has played in five such games. The Ducks are averaging 39.7 points per game, and the Tar Heels are averaging 35 points per game, these two squads are used to playing in high-scoring matches.
The last time Oregon was set as a double-digit favorite, they lost to Washington, and with a defense like the Ducks', they shouldn't be set as heavy favorites too often. Oregon's passing defense ranks 107th in the NCAA in yards allowed (260.6 passing yards allowed per game) and they have surrendered an average of 27.4 points per game.
Oregon vs. North Carolina Betting Picks for the Holiday Bowl
As previously mentioned, the Ducks' defense has been shaky this season, especially against opposing quarterbacks, and with a quarterback like Drake Maye on the other side of the line of scrimmage, Oregon's defense could struggle. When looking at other contests where the Ducks faced above-average quarterbacks, their defense has looked pretty weak.
Stetson Bennett of Georgia shredded Oregon for 368 yards and two touchdown passes, then ran another one in. Jaren Hall of BYU collected 305 yards and two touchdowns in a BYU loss. Cameron Ward of Washington State chucked the pigskin for 375 yards and two touchdowns, but also two picks, in a narrow 44-41 Oregon win. Michael Penix Jr. of Washington compiled 408 passing yards in two touchdowns in an upest victory for the Huskies. That's just to name a few.
Sure, UNC's defense isn't all that special either, but Drake Maye will keep the Tar Heels in this game. North Carolina being set as 14.5-point underdogs just seems too steep.
Bo Nix and Drake Maye will take over this game, and in sunny San Diego with two forgettable defenses attempting to stop them, this will be one of the highest - if not, the highest scoring game of the College Bowl Season. I'm not shying away from the over 75 on the total.
Holiday Bowl Best Bet: UNC +14.5 On The Spread and the Over 75 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Oregon vs. UNC Prediction for the Holiday Bowl
Drake Maye and Bo Nix are going to put on a show. Maye will put on a performance that has him looking like the favorite to win the Heisman next year, and Nix will have a game that boosts his draft stock. Maye and Nix will have quite the showdown. But, it's not just Nix and Maye.
Wide receiver Josh Downs has been one the best receivers in the NCAA in 2022, and will give the Ducks' secondary fits all night. Downs collected 94 recpetions for 1,029 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, and should effortlessly post another solid stat line in the Holiday Bowl. Alongside Downs, is the big-play threat in wide receiver Antoine Green. Green is averaging 18.6 yards per catch and could slice right through Oregon's porous defense. Maye has quite the duo to help post some crooked numbers up on the scoreboard.
The unfortunate case for the Tar Heels is that Maye is also the team's leading rusher. Not the case for the Oregon Ducks. While Oregon doesn't have any eye-popping numbers from their running backs, the backfield duo of Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington have been very dependable. Irving has rushed for 909 yards and is moving at 6.4 yards per carry, and Whittington has run for 752 yards and 5.9 yards per carry. Throw in Nix's 504 yards on the ground and six yards per carry, and you've got quite a triumvirate in the Ducks' ground attack.
And that will be the difference; the ground game. When needed, Oregon's ability to move the ball on the ground will help them kill the clock and keep the Tar Heels off the field. There will be a lot of pass attempts in this game, but UNC's rushing will be subpar, and the Tar Heels will have to keep chucking it. North Carolina will be successful in passing, but they'll need more, and I don't think they have it.
I believe this game will be much closer than the 14.5-point spread, but it's going to be a narrow slugfest. Lots of scoring and little to no defense. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this total approaches 100 points. I'll say the Ducks pick up the win in the Holiday Bowl, beating UNC, 49-48.