North Carolina vs. South Carolina Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 1

Spencer Rattler vs. Drake Maye in Week 1 of the college football season is one of the most exciting quarterback matchups we'll see all year. North Carolina is favored despite a collapse at the end of last season.
South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler
South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the North Carolina Tar Heels and South Carolina Gamecocks both finished with five losses, UNC 9-5 and USC 8-5, but they got there in very different ways.

The Tar Heels and Drake Maye got off to a scorching hot start to the year and then lost four straight to close out the season. South Carolina and Spencer Rattler began the year 1-2 and closed it out strong with a 31-30 win over Clemson in their regular season finale. They even gave Notre Dame a good game in the Gator Bowl, a 45-38 loss. 

Both teams brought back their star quarterbacks and that makes this one of the most exciting and intriguing Week 1 matchups. 

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North Carolina vs. South Carolina odds, spread and total

South Carolina and North Carolina Betting Trends

  • South Carolina went 7-6 ATS last season
  • The over was 8-5 in South Carolina’s games in 2022
  • North Carolina went 6-7-1 ATS last season
  • The under was 8-6 in North Carolina’s games in 2022

North Carolina vs. South Carolina How to Watch

  • Date: Saturday, September 2
  • Game Time: 7:30 PM EST
  • Venue: Kenan Memorial Stadium
  • How to Watch (TV): ABC
  • North Carolina Record: 0-0
  • South Carolina Record: 0-0

North Carolina vs. South Carolina Key Players to Watch

North Carolina

Drake Maye: If it wasn’t for Caleb Williams out at USC, Drake Maye would be the talk of college football heading into this season. He is the clear No. 2 quarterback draft prospect behind Williams and there are some who even like Maye more. He threw for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns with just seven interceptions last season while running for a team high 698 yards and seven more touchdowns on the ground. His No. 1 receiver last year, Josh Downs is now in the NFL. 

South Carolina

Spencer Rattler: Rattler also has a connection to Caleb Williams. Williams took his job at Oklahoma before following Lincoln Riley to USC. Rattler landed on his feet in South Carolina though and excelled down the stretch last season. He hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of a No. 1 QB recruit, but he certainly looked like it in their 63-38 win over Tennessee at the end of last season. Rattler went for 438 yards and six touchdowns through the air in that one, so on his best day he can go toe-to-toe with Maye or anyone else in college football. 

North Carolina vs. South Carolina prediction and pick

Drake Maye lost his top two leading receivers from last year’s team and we’ve seen this happen to a UNC quarterback before. Sam Howell was great in his Sophomore year, but lost his weapons and struggled to replicate that production. Mack Brown has to hope that doesn’t happen to Maye without Josh Downs and Antoine Green. Tight end Bryson Nesbit is back after catching 35 passes for 507 yards and four touchdowns last year. 

The issues for UNC won’t be on offense, it’ll be on the defensive side of the ball. Last year their defense crumbled and Maye could only save the day so many times before his magic wore out. The Tar Heels were 114th in the country in opponent yards per play. Cedric Gray coming back at linebacker is massive for that unit, but I don’t expect them to suddenly turn into an upper-echelon defense. 

South Carolina was a bit better at 87th in yards allowed per play. They lost Jordan Burch to Oregon in the transfer portal which is a big blow up front and there wasn’t much help coming in to replace his presence. The good news for the Gamecocks is that their strength defensively was stopping the pass which is the key to beating Drake Maye and UNC. They were 47th in passing yards allowed per game. 

Antwane Wells Jr. who was South Carolina’s leading receiver last year is back which will be a boost to Rattler and the offense. Drake Maye is the better quarterback, but I loved what I saw from South Carolina in the second half of last season and was disappointed by UNC’s collapse. I have more faith in what is around Rattler on Shane Beamer’s roster, so I’ll take the Gamecocks. 

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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change