We’re still a few months away from the return of college football, but the anticipation is slowly building across the country with spring practices in the books. There’s plenty of optimism surrounding the North Carolina football team with Heisman contender Drake Maye leading the Tar Heels back into relevance. Below, we continue our college football odds series with an over/under win total prediction for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Here are the latest college football odds, courtesy of FanDuel

College Football Odds: North Carolina Regular Season Wins

Over 8.5 Wins: +100

Under 8.5 Wins: -122

*Watch college football LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Why North Carolina Could Hit The Over

Already regarded as a top 20 team in our way-too-early college football playoff rankings heading into the summer, the Tar Heels have their sights set on taking a big leap after making four consecutive bowl game appearances in the first four seasons under head coach Mack Brown.

Based on our rankings, North Carolina’s only slated to face two ranked opponents this year, making it a seemingly safe bet to take the over on North Carolina’s over/under prediction. In fact, all but one of the opponents (Clemson) have a lower projected win total than the Tar Heels in the upcoming 2023 season.

Interestingly enough, the most expensive game on the schedule is against Appalachian State, as fans anticipate another thriller after last year’s absolutely incredible 63-61 shootout. To put that game into context, the 62 fourth-quarter points were one point short of the all-time NCAA single-quarter record.

North Carolina continued to win hard-fought games with razor-thin margins, beating the likes of App State, Miami, Duke, Virginia, and Wake Forest by a combined 13 points. The Tar Heels got off to a stellar 9-1 start before ultimately falling apart down the stretch and losing their final four games, which included a nail-biting 28-27 loss to Oregon in the Holiday Bowl.

The Tar Heels should be playing with a chip on their shoulders after the way their 2022 season ended. Their roster is stacked after picking up a handful of notable transfers and putting together the 30th-best recruiting class. In addition, a healthy bulk of their starters are returning on both sides of the ball, including star quarterback Drake Maye.

Live and breathe sports?

🚨 Get viral graphics, memes, rumors and trending sports news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

One of the leading Heisman candidates and a projected top 5 draft pick in our way-too-early 2024 NFL mock draft, Drake Maye threw for a whopping 4,321 yards (fourth-most in the country) and 38 touchdowns (tied-fifth) with just seven picks last year. The 6-4, 220-pound signal-caller also added 698 yards and seven scores on the ground, showcasing his impressive mobility.

Maye also received honors as the ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year.

North Carolina lost four of its top players to the 2023 NFL draft, but star slot receiver and third-round pick Josh Downs was the only prospect that was selected prior to the fifth round. Dallas drafted offensive tackle Asim Richards in the fifth round, while Detroit drafted seventh-round wide receiver Antoine Green and Jacksonville selected defensive tackle Raymond Vohasek eight picks later.

While Drake Maye may not be firing on all cylinders at the start of the season as he adjusts to a new coordinator and new receivers, he’s clearly one of the best players in all of college football and has the tools to overcome some potential growing pains. He’ll also have Bryson Nesbit returning as one of the highest-rated tight ends in the country.

The Tar Heels also ended up with the third-best FCS player from the transfer portal, per CFN’s Cam Mellor. A cornerback out of East Tennessee State, Alijah Huzzie profiles as an experienced, sticky cover corner with strong ball skills.

Why North Carolina Could Hit The Under

Averaging a whopping 34.4 points per game last season, North Carolina’s offense shouldn’t be an issue, pending a good bill of health. Operating with a new offensive coordinator and receiving corps could lead to some early season growing pains in potentially tough tests against South Carolina and App State, however. But the bigger factor in North Carolina’s over/under odds will be the defense, which allowed a staggering 30.8 points per game last year and appears to lack star power.

While Miami, Duke, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Wake Forest each have dealt with recent turnover, all five programs could pose some real obstacles as sleeper teams in a conference that doesn’t have a clear favorite. That’s obviously in addition to daunting late-season road tests against Clemson and N.C. State, and early-season matchups with South Carolina and Appalachian State.

Final North Carolina Over/Under Prediction & Pick

Currently facing the third-best odds to win the ACC and 19th-best odds to win the national championship, North Carolina is well-equipped to handle its schedule and produce back-to-back nine-plus win seasons. As the season progresses, health, depth, and leadership will be key factors for North Carolina’s over/under odds.

Final North Carolina Prediction & Pick: Over 8.5 Wins: +100