Opening line: UNC +6
Current line (as of 7 PM on 9/4): UNC +10
First impressions: It’s clear that Vegas is still trying to get a feel for these two teams. In their first game of the season, the Louisville Cardinals underperformed their line by 19.5 points in a closer-than-it-should-have-been 35-28 win over Purdue.
That narrowly edges out UNC underperforming expectations by 18.5 points. It actually could have been six points worse, had Chazz Surratt not powered into the end zone as time expired to make the final scoreline more respectable.
Regardless, Vegas took a conservative route with their opening line of only six points, but in only 48 hours, the amount of action Louisville was seeing increased the line to double digits.
Why this is the line: If Cal frosh Ross Bowers can gouge UNC’s pass defense for 363 yards and four touchdowns, defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson must be feeling pretty good about his chances. He threw for 378 yards against Purdue, and added 107 more on the ground.
UNC’s defense hasn’t shown much that indicates it’s ready for a Heisman-caliber quarterback. In a matchup against Cal’s offense, it’s honestly shocking that the line opened so low.
How the line could still move: Despite the fact that the Heels are playing at home, Louisville saw enough action early in the week to move the line four points in only 48 hours. Now at double digits, the line likely won’t move as fast or as dramatically anymore, but it’s definitely not done increasing.
The fact that Larry Fedora still hasn’t chosen a true starter between Brandon Harris and Chazz Surratt won’t give Vegas much faith in UNC. The line may hit two touchdowns.
My advice: If you believe Fedora will take this game a bit more seriously now that they’re in conference play, take the points while you can. If you put stock in history when it comes to these things, well, the last time UNC was an underdog at home was against Virginia Tech last year...and we don’t need to address that again.
The Tar Heels were the underdog a total of five times last year and won two of those games straight up. These games were against Miami and Florida State, and they were both away games. One more thing to consider: UNC hasn’t won straight up as an underdog at home in over five years.