Maryland (4-7) at North Carolina (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kenan Stadium (63,000) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Television: RSN. Home Record: Maryland 2-4, UNC 5-1. Away Record: Maryland 2-3, UNC 2-3. Neutral Record: Maryland 0-0, UNC 0-0. Conference Record: Maryland 2-5, UNC 4-3. Series Record: UNC leads, 35-33-1.
GAME NOTES: The North Carolina Tar Heels will conclude the regular season on Saturday afternoon against ACC foe Maryland at Kenan Stadium.
This marks the first meeting between these two schools since 2008. UNC leads the all-time series, 35-33-1, but it remains to be seen how often these longtime rivals will face each other down the road. On Monday, Maryland's board of regents voted to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference beginning in 2014-15.
Maryland enters Saturday's contest looking to snap a brutal five-game losing streak. The first two losses during that stretch were by a combined five points, but the Terrapins have been beaten by an average of nearly four touchdowns over their last three outings. They are coming off a 41-14 setback to 10th-ranked Florida State this past weekend.
Meanwhile, North Carolina is coming off a 37-13 victory at Virginia last Thursday night. A win here would improve the Tar Heels to 8-4 and mark their best winning percentage in a season since the 1997 squad went 11-1. UNC has gone 5-1 at home this season and a win over Maryland would mark the first time since Kenan Stadium was built in 1927 that the team has won 12 home games over a two-year stretch.
Maryland is playing with a converted linebacker at quarterback, although the offense has struggled to put points on the board for much of the season. The Terps have failed to score more than 20 points in any of their past five games. They enter this weekend's tilt ranked dead-last out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in total offense (273.9 ypg) and 112th in scoring offense (18.5 ppg). Season-ending injuries to four quarterbacks have thrust true freshman linebacker Shawn Petty into an emergency role under center. Petty made his third straight start against FSU, completing 8-of-19 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns against the Seminoles' top-ranked defense. Both of those TDs went to Kevin Dorsey, who finished with 75 yards on two catches.
Maryland gave up two touchdowns in a span of 12 seconds in the first quarter against FSU, and that was all the cushion the Seminoles needed. After the visitors marched down the field for a touchdown on their opening drive, Terps' return man Levern Jacobs fumbled the ensuing kickoff, leading to FSU's second TD. The Seminoles inflicted most of their damage on the ground, gashing Maryland's defense for 237 rushing yards and a team average of 5.8 yards per tote. The Terps allowed FSU to convert 7-of-13 third downs for the game and score on all four of its trips inside the red zone, including three touchdowns. L.A. Goree led the way with a game-high 13 tackles in the loss, while Kenneth Tate notched three sacks.
UNC has been awfully tough to beat at home, as the offense is averaging a robust 49.3 points per game at Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels are on pace to shatter their single-season school record of 441.8 yards per game, set back in 1983 as they are currently averaging 484.2 yards to rank 17th in the nation. It all starts with running back Giovani Bernard, the ACC's leading rusher with 118.3 ypg on the ground. Despite missing two games, Bernard has an ACC-best 18 touchdowns on the season and is within three of tying Don McCauley's single- season record of 21, set in 1970. Bernard is the first Tar Heel to notch consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Natrone Means in 1991. In the passing game, quarterback Bryn Renner has tossed 23 TD passes and is three shy of matching his school record that he set last year. Renner is the only player in school history with 20-plus TD passes in multiple seasons.
After getting torched for 68 points against Georgia Tech in its previous outing, the UNC defense allowed just 13 points at Virginia last week. On two occasions, the Cavaliers ventured inside the red zone and came away with no points. The Tar Heels defense held UVA to 2-of-15 on third down and 3-of-6 on fourth down. Tre Boston led the charge with 13 tackles, and he also scored on a 36-yard interception return in the second quarter to spot the Tar Heels a 10-point lead going into the half. All told, UNC amassed 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for the game. The team enters the weekend ranked fourth in the country in tackles for losses with 8.1 per game. Defensive end Kareem Martin (15.5) and linebacker Kevin Reddick (15.5) lead the team in that department, followed by defensive tackle Sylvester Williams with 12.5. The Tar Heels also lead the ACC with 15 interceptions.
These two teams have seen their seasons head in very different directions. The Terps have endured some tough circumstances at the most critical offensive position, which has really taken the wind out of their sails. Although UNC and Maryland have had some tight battles over the years, look for UNC to cruise in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 45, Maryland 17
11/21 11:23:49 ET