Virginia vs. North Carolina 2012: Odds, betting preview, and pick

Streeter Lecka

North Carolina is favored just a week after giving up nine touchdowns. So how bad is Virginia? And is that run of against-the-spread dominance by the Tar Heels really over?

In one of the longest-running and most one-sided betting rivalries in college football, the Virginia Cavaliers battle UNC Thursday night in Charlottesville (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Virginia, which needs to win out to become bowl-eligible, takes on the Tar Heels for the 117th time. They have lost two straight to North Carolina after ripping off 11 ATS wins in 12 seasons dating back to 1998.

As of Thursday morning most, college football betting outlets were listing Carolina at -3.5 for this game, with a total of 61.

Carolina started 1-2 this season, then won four games in a row. The Heels then lost a thriller at Duke, then beat rival North Carolina State 43-35. But last week UNC gave up nine touchdowns in losing to Georgia Tech, 68-50. And their aforementioned ATS record against Virginia is not very impressive.

The Heels are 6-4 overall, but ineligible to play a bowl game. UNC is also 3-3 in ACC play, which puts them in a tie for third place in the Coastal Division, a game behind Miami and the Ramblin' Wreck.

Virginia, meanwhile, started 2-0 this season, with a win over Penn State, but then lost six games in a row, including its first four ACC games. The Cavs then picked up their first conference victory by beating North Carolina State, 33-6, and last week UVA rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Miami, 41-40, getting the winning score with six seconds to go.

Virginia, at 4-6 overall and 2-4 in ACC play, is out of the running in the Coastal Division, and needs to win its last two games to become bowl-eligible.

The Cavaliers have been one of the very worst teams in college football this season to bet on, going 1-8-1 vs. the pointspreads.

Statistically speaking the Heels have outrushed opponents this season by a 201-138 YPG margin, while Virginia has been outrushed by a 144-137 margin.

The Tar Heels have won the last two games in this series. Last year Carolina ran for 222 yards in beating the Cavs 28-17 in Chapel Hill.

Free Pick: Carolina can't win the ACC, but it can cause problems for its opponents. We'll give the points and take the Tar Heels for Thursday night. (Courtesy of PickShark.com.)

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