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How and what to watch for Orange Bowl: No. 5 Texas A&M vs. No. 13 North Carolina

After missing out on the College Football Playoff, the Aggies will look to prove themselves in the Orange Bowl against Sam Howell and North Carolina.

Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond (11) speaks to Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher during a game between Tennessee and Texas A&M in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.  Knoxville News Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

Following an 8-1 regular season in the SEC, Jimbo Fisher went on the campaign trail and was adamant that his fifth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies belonged in the College Football Playoff. After just missing the cut, Fisher’s squad will have a chance to show the playoff committee what they potentially missed when meeting Mack Brown’s North Carolina Tar Heels in the Orange Bowl.

A&M enters Saturday’s New Year’s Six showdown sporting a well-balanced team statistically, ending the season ranked 16th in offense per SP+ and 21st on defense. Their lone loss came in the form of a 52-24 mauling at Alabama on Oct. 3 but was followed up by seven consecutive victories to close the regular season, a stretch that included a signature 41-38 victory over Florida.

Veteran quarterback Kellen Mond wasn’t spectacular but efficient for the Aggie offense, throwing just over 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns with only three interceptions. On the ground, running back Isaiah Spiller earned First-Team All-SEC honors by finishing just seven yards shy of 1,000 yards through nine games. On defense, lineman Bobby Brown III earned himself first-team honors as well by stuffing opponents for 20 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

On the other side of the field, North Carolina will take the field after a fireworks show of a season where they ranked fourth in offensive SP+, scoring 40+ points in seven different ballgames. Sam Howell continued showcasing himself as the potential top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, throwing for over 3,300 yards with a 69.1 completion percentage and 27 touchdowns in 11 games.

He wasn’t alone with running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams both eclipsing 1,000 yards on the year including a dismantling of Miami where they combined for over 500 yards rushing and five touchdowns in a 62-26 win to close the season.

Those two, however, will not play in the Orange Bowl as they, along with wide receiver Dyami Brown and linebacker Chazz Surratt, have decided to opt out.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch the Texas A&M Aggies face the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Orange Bowl on Saturday, December 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. You can stream it via WatchESPN or the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: North Carolina vs. Texas A&M -7.5
Point Total: 65.5
Money line: Texas A&M -305, UNC +235

  • Seven of Texas A&M’s last eight night games have gone UNDER the total points line.
  • North Carolina has failed to cover the spread in each of its last four night games against AP-ranked teams.
  • Texas A&M is 5-4 against the spread this season; North Carolina is 5-6.
  • Texas A&M is 4-3 against the spread this season as a favorite, North Carolina is 1-1 as an underdog.
  • Texas A&M ix 1-3 against the spread in neutral site games under Jimbo Fisher (since 2018). North Carolina is 2-0 against the spread in neutral site games under Mack Brown (since 2019).

Orange Bowl Betting splits

Texas A&M: (73% of handle, 75% percent of bets)
UNC: (27% of handle, 25% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

Sam Howell is a great QB, but without his top two backs, the Tar Heel offense is going to look very different.

Pick: Texas A&M -7.5

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