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CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 20th, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kenan Stadium (60,000) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Television:ABC. Home Record: VT 2-0, UNC 1-0. Away Record: VT 0-0, UNC 1-0. Neutral Record: VT 0-1, UNC 0-0. Conference Record: VT 1-0, UNC 0-0. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 15-9-6.
GAME NOTES: The North Carolina Tar Heels seek their first 3-0 start in more than a decade this weekend, as they open their ACC slate against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels are off to a fast start following a sub par 4-8 campaign in 2007, as they have won their first two outings of the season for the first time since 2000. After kicking off the 2008 season with a lackluster 35-27 win over a FCS opponent in McNeese State, UNC hit the road and shellacked Big East foe Rutgers, 44-12, on September 11th. The win at Rutgers was significant not only because it came against a noteworthy opponent, but because it was the program's first victory outside the state of North Carolina since 2002. The Tar Heels are now in search of their first 3-0 start since opening the 1997 season with eight straight victories. As for Virginia Tech, it has rebounded from a season-opening loss to East Carolina (27-22) by winning each of its past two outings. The team first downed FCS member Furman (24-7) before opening its ACC schedule with a 20-17 victory over Georgia Tech last weekend. The Hokies now head back out to the road, where they own a 15-1 record in ACC games since joining the league in 2004. If that wasn't impressive enough, Tech is also a perfect 13-0 in conference road openers under head coach Frank Beamer. The Hokies even own a 15-9-6 edge in the head-to-head series with UNC and that includes a unblemished 4-0 mark as ACC foes.
Dustin Keys hit a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner with 4:37 left to go, lifting VT to a 20-17 victory over Georgia Tech. The field goals accounted for all of the second half scoring for the Hokies, who used 199 rushing yards to open ACC play with a win. Darren Evans led the charge, as he toted 19 times for 94 yards and a score. It was a solid effort by Evans, who leads Tech with 203 yards and three scores on the ground this season. Tyrod Taylor got the nod under center last weekend and he added 74 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He only threw for 48 yards, but Taylor's mobility has been a real asset to this team and he showed that by leading the Hokies with 112 rushing yards in a win over Furman. Virginia Tech as a team, isn't explosive by any means, but if it can continue to average 188.0 rushing ypg for the season, this offense should be effective.
The Hokies weren't the only team to find success on the ground last weekend, as their defense was abused for 278 rushing yards by the Yellow Jackets. The defense only gave up 109 passing yards to GT, but that was mostly due to the fact it couldn't stop the run. Virginia Tech though, did make enough big plays to keep Georgia Tech from scoring at a high rate, as it generated three turnovers, giving it seven forced miscues for the season. Brett Warren had 15 stops and a forced fumble for the Hokies, who are giving up 334.3 total ypg thus far. With the solid effort, Warren now tops the roster with 26 stops for the season.
The Tar Heels opened some eyes with their impressive win over Rutgers last week, racking up four offensive touchdowns behind 378 total yards. UNC gained 157 yards on the ground and 221 through the air, while committing no turnovers. It was an even better performance than the opener, when UNC went for 163 rushing yards and 221 passing, but with a pair of turnovers against a much lesser opponent in McNeese State. T.J. Yates was sensational in the win last week, converting 14-of-22 pass attempts for 221 yards and three scores. It was certainly a nice follow up for Yates, who passed for the same amount of yards and two touchdowns in the opener. Hakeem Nicks hauled in six passes for 63 yards and a pair of scores last week, building off his six-catch, 110-yard effort in the opener. Brandon Tate, who had four catches for 93 yards and a score against McNeese State, got involved with four receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown versus Rutgers.
Defensively, UNC was a little shaky in the opener, but this unit responded nicely last weekend against Rutgers. After allowing 391 yards to McNeese State, the Tar Heels limited Rutgers to 383 yards. The unit also picked off four passes last week and that includes one that was returned 66 yards for a touchdown by Bruce Carter. Charles Brown also had an interception, to go along with 10 stops, while Quan Sturdivant added seven tackles and a pick of his own. Sturdivant paced the team with 11 tackles in the opener.
This is a big test for the Tar Heels, who haven't had this good of a start in quite some time. Virginia Tech however, is stingy on defense and that is going to cause some problems for UNC. Neither team should score much in this one, but go with the Hokies, as they have been able to run the ball successfully of late and are perfect in conference road openers under Beamer.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 20, North Carolina 10
09/17 10:27:09 ET