OCT. 9, 2010 - CLEMSON AT NORTH CAROLINA
KENAN STADIUM (60,000)
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.
HEAD COACH: Butch Davis (20-18 at UNC, 71-38 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 21 (10 - offense, 9 - defense, specialists - 2)
KEY PLAYERS: DE #42 Robert Quinn (6-5, 260), LB #52 Quan Sturdivant (6-2, 230), QB #13 T.J. Yates (6-4, 220), WR #8 Greg Little (6-3, 210), PK #11 Casey Barth (5-11, 190)
LAST MEETING: 2006 - Clemson 52 North Carolina 7
ACC KICKOFF QUOTE: "I think our institution has done absolutely everything that they can from a compliance standpoint," Davis said. "We've cooperated with the NCAA. The feedback we got from them was that the more cooperative, the more help you can provide, the faster that these things move along." - UNC head coach Butch Davis.
NOTES: Offensively, UNC returns just about everybody, including four of five starters on the offensive line, its starting quarterback in T.J. Yates, in addition to all of its top receivers and running backs from a year ago.
At the same time, those numbers are somewhat misleading.
Despite Yates' rank as the second-leading passer in North Carolina history, he has been a lightning rod for UNC fans over the years because of his inconsistent play, which has been highlighted by questionable decision-making.
When you discover that Carolina was 10th in the ACC and 83rd nationally in scoring offense a year ago, not to mention 108th in total offense as Yates threw 15 interceptions, you can understand why.
Defensively, to suggest North Carolina was stellar in 2009 would be an understatement as the Heels led the ACC and finished sixth nationally in total defense, allowing just 269.6 yards per game. UNC was also ranked 10th in the nation in rushing defense, 13th in scoring defense and 14th in both pass defense and pass efficiency defense.
Leading the way in 2010 is end Robert Quinn, who was a first team All-ACC performer a year ago, leading the league in tackles for loss (19) and second in league in sacks (11). He'll be backed by two of the top linebackers in the league in Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter.
Unfortunately for Tar Heel fans, an ongoing NCAA investigation remains a dark clound over the program and could mean the ultra-talented tackle Marvin Austin may not play this season.
KEYS: Reminiscent of the late 1980s, this is a game that will eventually be won by outstanding defense, minimal mistakes on offense and a solid performance by special teams. While Kenan Stadium is far from an intimidating environment, UNC's defense is downright scary and will likely dictate the tone in this game from the get-go. The key will be for Clemson's offense not turn the ball over deep its own territory, while also taking advantage of a small number of scoring opportunities.
PROJECTED POINT SPREAD: North Carolina by 3