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North Carolina (3-2) at Virginia (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 16th, 6:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scott Stadium (61,500) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television:ESPN3.com. Home Record: UNC 2-1, Virginia 2-1. Away Record: UNC 1-0, Virginia 0-2. Neutral Record: UNC 0-1, Virginia 0-0. Conference Record: UNC 1-1, Virginia 0-2. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 56-54-4.
GAME NOTES: The North Carolina Tar Heels will try to keep the good times rolling this weekend, as they take on the Virginia Cavaliers in ACC play at Scott Stadium.
The Tar Heels have overcome a diminished roster and a slow start to climb over the .500 mark at 3-2. UNC, which had several players suspended by the NCAA, opened the season 0-2 before reeling off three straight wins to turn things around. Most recently, the Tar Heels grabbed their first ACC win of the campaign with a 21-16 decision over Clemson this past Saturday.
Virginia, meanwhile, came up short at Georgia Tech over the weekend, dropping a 33-21 decision. It was the second consecutive loss for the Cavs, whose only wins this season have come against FCS programs.
As for the all-time series, UNC holds a 56-54-4 edge over Virginia, but the Cavs have won the past four encounters, including a 16-3 win last season.
Johnny White ran for 89 yards and a pair of TDs on 22 carries, helping UNC slip past Clemson last weekend. UNC managed just 255 total yards of offense, so the performance was much needed from White, who also paced the team with six receptions for 90 yards. White has been a big part of the offense this season, as he leads the way with 407 yards on the ground while ranking second with 15 receptions for 200 yards. QB T.J. Yates didn't have his best game last weekend, but he once again did a nice job managing the offense, throwing for 164 yards and a TD. He once again went without an INT, and he has been picked just once in 160 attempts this season. Jheranie Boyd is Yates' big-play WR, averaging 24.8 yards per catch, and he reeled in his team-best third TD of the season in the win over Clemson.
The Tar Heels gave up some plays to Clemson last weekend, but when the defense needed a stop, they got it. The unit permitted only one scoring drive of over 22 yards despite giving up 305 total yards on the game. UNC surrendered just 91 yards on the ground, while allowing Clemson to convert only 21-of-39 pass attempts. Those were two areas in need of improvement for the Tar Heels, who are still allowing 155.2 rushing ypg and opponents to make good on 60.8 percent of their tosses. Zach Brown currently leads the roster with 28 tackles, half of which he registered last weekend.
The Cavs simply couldn't sustain enough drives to upend GT last weekend, as their offense spent just 23 minutes on the field because of a poor 3-of-12 effort on third downs. QB Marc Verica completed a modest 18-of-31 tosses for 239 yards, but he had no TDs and was sacked four times. It was another mediocre performance from Verica, who has just six TD passes against three INTs for the season. Kris Burd and Dontrelle Inman are Verica's primary targets with 381 and 325 receiving yards, respectively, for the year. Neither was a big factor against GT, though Inman did have a 52-yard catch. Keith Payne provided most of the offense last weekend with 56 yards and two TDs on 14 carries. He now has 295 yards and seven scores for a Virginia ground game that is managing only 128.4 ypg.
Virginia's defense was simply gashed by GT's option attack to the tune of 477 yards on the ground. The Cavs gave up countless big plays, allowing GT to average 6.4 yards on 74 carries. It was obviously a poor effort from the run defense, which is now giving up a whopping 210.0 ypg on the ground for the season. The defense, though, did record a pair of takeaways in the loss and that was a positive for a unit that had forced just five turnovers through the first four games. Cam Johnson had 10 tackles and fumble recovery in the defeat and he has been a force for Virginia, leading the team with 30 tackles, nine TFLs and 4.5 sacks.
The Tars Heels are playing with a lot of confidence and determination right now and their defense and improving ground game should be plenty for them to get past Virginia this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 24, Virginia 13
10/13 10:34:34 ET