Idaho (0-4) at North Carolina (2-2)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kenan Memorial Stadium (63,000) -- Chapel Hill, North
Carolina. Television: Raycom Sports. Home Record: Idaho 0-2, UNC 2-0. Away
Record: Idaho 0-2, UNC 0-2. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, UNC 0-0. Conference
Record: Idaho 0-0, UNC 0-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Idaho Vandals will attempt to steal one on the road when they
take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in a non-conference matchup at Kenan
Idaho fell to 0-4 and lost its seventh game in a row dating back to last
season last week, as it fell 40-37 in an overtime thriller against Wyoming.
The Vandals opened up the season with defeats to Eastern Washington, Bowling
Green, and LSU. Despite another dissatisfying result, last week's loss to the
Cowboys was by far the best overall performance by Idaho. Coach Robb Akey is
now in his sixth season at the helm of the program.
This will be the final non-conference game for UNC before it travels into the
heart of its ACC schedule. The Tar Heels are 2-2 after last week's easy, 27-6
win over instate rival East Carolina. UNC won its only other home game, the
season opener versus Elon, 62-0, however it lost its next two games on the
road to Wake Forest (28-27) and Louisville (39-34). Coach Larry Fedora built
Southern Miss into a feared mid-major program prior to taking over UNC's
program this season. His career record coming into Saturday is 36-21.
The Vandals offense is gaining steam with Dominique Blackman under center.
Since missing the season opener for a violation of team rules, the junior
quarterback has thrown for 847 yards and six touchdowns with five
interceptions. Blackman is ranked ninth nationally with a 73.1 completion
Running back Najee Lovett and wideout Jahrie Level are Idaho's leading
receivers through four games with totals of 227 and 206 yards, respectively.
Mike Scott is also becoming a consistent target, as he reeled in eight passes
for 84 yards and a score in last week's loss to Wyoming.
Although the Vandals' aerial attack is steadily becoming more effective, its
rushing attack is one of the worst in the FBS with an average of 84 yards per
game. Ryan Bass showed he might be the answer to the team's problems last week
as he gained 121 yards on 19 carries to keep the opposition honest.
Idaho's defense has not done anything to give its opponents a reason to worry
coming into this one. The Vandals have given up a combined 103 points in their
last two outings and have allowed an average of 428 total offensive yards per
game through four games.
Benson Mayowa is a key player with three solo sacks, as is Gary Walker, who
leads the team with 31 total tackles.
Much like its opponent, UNC relies heavily on passing for its offensive
production. It is ranked 19th in the FBS with an average of 309 passing yards
The Tar Heels' aerial attack is captained by Bryn Renner, who has already
thrown for 1,191 yards and 11 scores with three picks. Renner is coming off of
his best performance of the season as he threw for 321 yards and two
touchdowns without an interception on 27-of-43 passing in last week's win over
Renner's job is made much easier by the countless weapons he has at his
disposal. Erik Highsmith, Eric Ebron, Sean Tapley, and Romar Morris are all
capable of producing big receiving games on any given Saturday. Highsmith has
tallied a team-best 243 yards, while Ebron is a scoring threat with three
The rushing attack has been slowed down by an injury to its feature back,
Giovani Bernard. UNC had its sophomore tailback back last week and he gained
59 yards and a score on 18 carries to help the Tar Heels get past ECU in his
return. The touchdown was the 19th of his young career.
Although UNC is solid against opposing rushing attacks, that will not matter
much versus the pass friendly Vandals. Luckily for the home team, the Tar
Heels are allowing a reasonable average 223.3 yards per game through the air.
UNC's aggressive defense should cause big problems for Idaho's offensive line.
It leads the ACC in sacks (3.25) and tackles for loss (9.3) per contest.
Although Idaho is showing steady development with Blackman under center, it is
far from being capable of upsetting a decent BCS team on the road. The Vandals
will need to deliver a phenomenal performance to avoid being blown out in this
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 41, Idaho 20
09/27 07:16:58 ET