2023 Duke’s Mayo Bowl – North Carolina vs West Virginia

2023 Duke’s Mayo Bowl – North Carolina vs West Virginia

posted December 21

The Game

One of the great wonders of the holiday season is waiting in breathless anticipation to find out which head coach will be doused with a bucket of CELEBRATORY MAYO after the game. Will it be Mack Brown? His Tar Heels (8-4) have SUNK into the ABYSS after a hot start and have lost four of their last six contests. Or will it be Neal Brown? His Mountaineers (8-4) are in a lot better form heading into this game having emerged victorious in four of their last five starts.

The Details

West Virginia -6.5 North Carolina (54.5)

MEGALOCKS LINE – West Virginia -5.5

“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: West Virginia 30.5 North Carolina 24

West Virginia offense vs North Carolina defense

The Mountaineers have one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country (#3, 234 YPG) and they’ve got three (!) players on the roster with over 700 rushing yards. RBs CJ Donaldson and Jahiem White have turned the trick along with QB Garrett Greene. West Virginia doesn’t do much through the air (Greene – 15-4 TD to INT, 53%) but the good news is that the Tar Heels can’t stop the run. North Carolina ranks #86 in the country in run defense (163 YPG) and that makes this a bad match-up for Mack Brown’s crew. Things have the potential to get ugly for the defense given that they will be missing a lot of players that played a significant number of snaps during the regular season.

North Carolina offense vs West Virginia defense

North Carolina’s season-long offensive numbers were excellent (#8 passing, #16 rush) but those stats are largely irrelevant given how depleted their roster is on this side of the football. Star QB Drake Maye (24-9 TD to INT) won’t be available for this game and it’ll be up to backup Conner Harrell (6 attempts this season) to get the offense moving. Harrell will be without several key regulars including star WR Devontez Walker and center Corey Gaynor but at least it appears (for now) that 1,400-yard RB Omarion Hampton will be playing in this game. West Virginia has been fairly average on defense but they’ve been better vs the run (#49) so it seems as tho the Tar Heels will have to do damage thru the air with an inexperienced QB if they wanna win this game. Note that the Mountaineers will also be without some talented doods on defense.

Trends, Intangibles and More!

West Virginia HC Neal Brown is 4-1 SU in bowl games (1-1 with the Mountaineers)……The Tar Heels have lost three bowl games in a row and allowed 28/38/41 in those contests.


This is a tough game to call with so many pieces missing for both teams. The Tar Heels have been hit harder by departures and we like the West Virginia rushing attack. We prefer the favorite and may get to the window later in the week but we’ll pass for now.


No leanage

‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.