Saturday, November 20, 2010
12:00 pm (EST), ACC Network
Chapel Hill, NC
NC State (7-3) at North Carolina (6-4) Nov. 20, 12:00 ET, ESPN3.com
Here's The Deal … NC State and North Carolina meet for the 100th time, with the Atlantic Division race certain to be impacted by the outcome. The Wolfpack is in the thick of a tight three-team race, knowing that it controls its own destiny over the final two weekends. If it can close out the regular season with road wins in Chapel Hill and College Park, Md. next Saturday, it'll meet either Virginia Tech or Miami on Dec. 4 for the ACC championship. Carolina reached its regular season peak following a 26-10 loss to the Hokies a week ago. With the Pack visiting this weekend and a trip to Durham coming up next week, the close of this tumultuous season for the Tar Heels will be all about Tobacco Road bragging rights and improving bowl position.
Why NC State Might Win: Although QB Russell Wilson and his talented corps of receivers are the signature players in Raleigh, the Wolfpack defense has been a quiet catalyst throughout this season. Fueled by the relentless pressure being provided by linebackers Nate Irving, Terrell Manning, and Audie Cole, NC State is second in ACC sacks and third in takeaways. Its frenetic pace and penchant for making the big play will cause problems for a Carolina offense that's failed against similarly constructed units from Miami and Virginia Tech this fall. It can't help that the Heels are weak up front and 11th in the conference in pass protection.
Why North Carolina Might Win: Every now and again, the Heels will put forth a complete effort for Butch Davis. Heck, it was just two weeks ago that they went into Tallahassee and stunned Florida State behind 439 yards and three touchdown passes from T.J. Yates. The Wolfpack can be soft in coverage, which will be a problem against WR Dwight Jones. Carolina sports its own collection of next-level linebackers, cutting off running lanes and batting away passes with the ensemble of Quan Sturdivant, Bruce Carter, Zach Brown, and Kevin Reddick.
What To Watch Out For: Wilson has been a little more careless than in the past with his throws, getting picked off an uncharacteristic 12 times. He better be extra studious when reading a grown-up Carolina secondary that's flush with talented defenders. While the Pack has a terrific collection of receivers, led by TE George Bryan and receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams, they're going to have a difficult getting separation Saturday afternoon.
What Will Happen: NC State can almost see the finish line, but its chief rival is standing in the way. For different reasons, both teams want this one badly. The Pack is after the Atlantic Division. The Heels want to play spoiler. As has often been the case around Raleigh, Wilson will be the difference-maker, leading State to a thrilling come-from-behind win in what'll wind up being one of Week 12's more underrated and exciting match ups.
CFN Prediction: NC State 31 North Carolina 27 … Line: North Carolina -2.5
Must See Rating: Casino Jack – 5 … Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition -1 … 3
NC State Game Notes
Saturday's game will mark the 100th meeting in the series between the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels. The rivalry, which began in 1894, is the Wolfpack's oldest among ACC teams and the fourth-most played series in the ACC.
When the series began, the two teams actually played twice a year for several years (1894, 1899 and 1901). The series moved to an annual basis for 1919 through 1943 and then after a three-year hiatus, the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels have played every year since 1947 with one exception. In 1952, the game between the two teams was canceled because of a polio outbreak on UNC's campus.
The Tar Heels hold a 63-30-6 overall mark over the Wolfpack, including a 34-17-2 advantage in Chapel Hill. However, NC State has won the last three meetings between the two teams.
PACK/HEELS EVEN IN PAST DECADE
Although UNC holds a decisive advantage in the all-time series with NC State, in the past decade, NC State holds a 6-4 mark.
The Wolfpack has won each of the last three outings and is undefeated against UNC under Tom O'Brien. Prior to those three victories, the Tar Heels had won three in a row. Before that, in 2002 and 2003, the Pack took a pair. In 1999, 2000 and 2001, the teams alternated wins. Of NC State's six wins in the last 10 years, four have been by double-figures, with the largest margins coming in games played in Chapel Hill (+18 in 2000, +17 in 2002, +31 in 2008).
In the three wins in Raleigh, those margins have been just 13 (2003), 4 (2007) and 1 (2009). All but one of UNC's wins during that time span have been by eight points or less.
WILSON MAKES STRONG CASE FOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
With two regular season games left to play in 2010, redshirt junior Russell Wilson has made a strong case for ACC Player of the Year honors. The four- time ACC Player of the Week has his team in a position to potentially play for the conference title after being picked to finish fourth in the division in the preseason.
He currently leads the league in passing with 281.3 yards per game, 25.9 yards per game more than any other league quarterback. His total offense mark of 312.9 ranks seventh nationally and is 56 yards ahead of Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor in the league standings. His 22 touchdown throws are also four more than Taylor's to lead the league.
Wilson, who graduated from NC State in May, has thrown for 300 or more yards in seven games this season. He currently ranks second in ACC history in touchdown responsibility with 85 for his career. He ranks fifth nationally in that category for 2010.
BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC, PART 3
Literally and figuratively, to get to Charlotte, NC State must first get through Chapel Hill. The Wolfpack still controls its own destiny in its battle for the ACC's Atlantic Division crown and will play in the ACC title game in Charlotte IF it can win against its rival and at Maryland on Thanksgiving weekend.
Heading into the Clemson game on November 6, many believed that a loss would knock NC state out of the hunt for an Atlantic Division title. Despite a heartbreaking 14-13 loss at Clemson, however, when the day ended, the Wolfpack was exactly where it was before the game: tied for second in the league standings.
Florida State still leads that side of the conference race with one more victory in league play, but if the Wolfpack ends up tied with the Seminoles it would win the tiebreaker.
The Pack also has to travel to Maryland, the team tied with NC State for second in the standings this week. Of the three teams now left in the hunt for the Atlantic Division title, the Wolfpack is the only one that has to go on the road three times in the last four games.
EVEN AND COUNTING
The victory over Wake Forest the first time since 2003 that NC State posted as many wins in the regular season. Since 1993, only two Wolfpack squads have posted more than seven regular season victories - the 1994 squad and the 2002 team, which played 13 regular season con- tests. NC State has now posted four conference victories with two league teams remaining on the schedule. The last time a Wolfpack squad posted more than four ACC wins in a season was in 2002 and that has only been accomplished five times in the past 20 years (2002, 1998, 1994, 1992, 1991).
PACK PLAYS FINAL HOME GAME
The Wolfpack saluted the Carter-Finley faithful last Saturday with a resounding 38-3 win over Wake Forest. That 35-point victory was NC State's largest over an ACC opponent since 1988, when Dick Sheridan's squad defeated North Carolina, 48-3, in Chapel Hill.
Tom O'Brien's squad finished the 2010 home schedule with a 5-1 record, its best mark at home since 2003, when quarterback Philip Rivers led the squad to a 6-1 home mark (the Pack was also 6-1 at home in 2002).
NC State enters the last two games of the season, both of which are on the road, with a 2-2 record outside of Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack hasn't posted a winning record in road games since 2002 (4-2).
IRVING SETS SCHOOL RECORD
Linebacker Nate Irving was a beast in Saturday's 38-3 victory over Wake Forest. Playing in the last home game of his career, he made up for the season he lost with a school-record EIGHT tackles for loss. That mark broke the previous mark of six held set by Mario Williams, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL draft. Irving now ranks third nationally in tackles for loss for 2010.
Irving, a semifinalist for the 2010 Butkus Award, cost the Deacons 22 yards, including a seven-yard sack. He tallied 13 stops for the contest and now posts 81 stops and 18.5 tackles for loss for the season. That single-season tackles-for-loss mark currently ranks sixth in school history. He has tallied 37.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage for his career, the eight-best mark ever by a Wolfpack defender.
Irving was named the College Football Foundation's National Defensive Player of the Week earlier this season when he had 16 stops at Georgia Tech.
FANS ‘PACK' CARTER-FINLEY
Although there were only six home games in 2010 for the Wolfpack faithful to attend, those fans came out in full force. Average attendance this season was 56,876, a new school record.
Director of Athletics Debbie Yow had 500 bleacher seats added to Carter-Finley prior to the Virginia Tech game due to unprecedented student demand for tickets. Attendance for that game was 58,083, the third-highest attendance total in stadium history.
BRYAN NAMED MACKEY SEMIFINALIST
Redshirt junior tight end George Bryan has been named one of eight national semifinalists for the 2010 Mackey Award, which is awarded annually to the nation's top player at that position. Bryan is currently ranked third on the team with 27 receptions for 308 yards.
Bryan, a first-team All-ACC performer in 2009, was named to the midseason ‘watch' list for that award in 2009. He is the only player in the ACC on the semifinalist list.
The award is named for John "Mack Truck" Mackey, who played in the NFL for 10 years and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
ROOKIE KICKER GETS JOB DONE
True freshman Chris Hawthorne was put in a rare position on Saturday - playing in his first collegiate contest ... 10 games into the season. Hawthorne, a Raleigh native, was subbing for Josh Czajkowski, who had started 34 straight games at placekicker before being sidelined with a hamstring injury for the Wake Forest contest.
Hawthorne had a solid performance in his collegiate debut, connecting on his only field-goal attempt, a 25-yarder, hitting all five of his point-after-touchdown kicks and kicking off seven times. His only miscue of the afternoon was a kickoff that went out of bounds.
FIRST DOWNS AND THE LACK THEREOF
NC State enters the 11th game of the season leading the ACC and ranking 19th nationally with 232 first downs in 2010. That average of 23.2 first downs per game would be a school record if the season ended today. The Wolfpack has gained 76 first downs by rushing, 136 by passing and 20 by penalty, the second-highest mark in the league. The Wolfpack's opposition, however, is not faring so well when it comes to making first downs. NC State's defense also leads the league in first downs allowed in 2010, as the opposition has managed just 155 total. That mark ranks eighth nationally.
Opponents have gained 69 first downs via rush, 83 via pass and just three by penalty. That number of first downs gained by penalty is the lowest in the nation.
FEW PENALTIES FOR PACK
State leads the ACC in fewest yards penalized per game this season, as Tom O'Brien and company have averaged just 36.3 yards in penalties per contest. The NCAA ranking uses total number of penalties and with just 53 for the season, the Wolfpack ranks 26th among the BCS ranks.
North Carolina Game Notes
North Carolina plays its last home game of the season when it plays host to NC State, Saturday, Nov. 20 at Noon. The contest will be televised on the ACC Network with Tim Brant and Dave Archer calling the broadcast. This will be the 100th meeting between the two schools with the Tar Heels holding a 63-30-6 lead.
The Tar Heels (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC) are coming off a 26-10 loss to No. 16 Virginia Tech in Kenan Stadium. Carolina led 10-9 at halftime, but the Hokies scored 17 unanswered second-half points to earn the victory. Senior Anthony Elzy started at tailback in place of injured starter Johnny White and had 184 all-purpose yards, including 102 receiving and 82 rushing. Elzy scored on Carolina's opening drive.
Carolina committed a season-high six turnovers, including four interceptions and two fumbles. One of the interceptions came in the end zone that resulted in a touchback and another at the Virginia Tech 1-yard line, a fumble that rolled out of the end zone for another touchback.
NC State defeated Wake Forest, 38-3, last week in Raleigh. The Wolfpack (7-3, 4-2 ACC) are lead by quarterback Russell Wilson, who leads the ACC in both total offense and passing yards per game.
Saturday's game is the final home game for 17 North Carolina seniors (16 scholarship), including 12 fifth-year players. Over the last four years, those 17 players have turned around the fortunes of the football program. In 2007, the Tar Heels were 4-8 with most of those players playing significant minutes as freshmen. UNC improved to back-to-back 8-5 seasons in 2008 and 2009, including consecutive Meineke Car Care Bowl appearances. Over the last four games, Carolina has won 26 games, the most since UNC won 31 from 1996-99.
The senior class has a wealth of experience, including four players with 40 or more starts, led by safety Deunta Williams (44). Offensively, quarterback T.J. Yates has started 41 games, the most at that position in school history. Thirteen seniors are scheduled to graduate this December and the other four are on track to graduate in May.
North Carolina is bowl eligible for the third consecutive season. That is the longest such run since the Tar Heels went to eight consecutive bowl games from 1991-98. Carolina played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in each of the last two seasons.
• Carolina committed a season-high six turnovers vs. Virginia Tech, including four interceptions and two lost fumbles. One of the interceptions came in the end zone that resulted in a touchback and another at the Virginia Tech 1-yard line, a fumble that rolled out of the end zone for another touchback.
• Carolina came into the Virginia Tech game ranked 28th in the country with a positive turnover margin. Following the game, the Tar Heels now rank 66th nationally with a -0.20 turnover margin.
• Prior to the Virginia Tech game, Carolina had committed a season-high three turnovers on three occasions - against LSU, Rutgers and Miami.
• The Tar Heels have committed 14 turnovers in four losses this year and turned the ball over just six times in their six wins (three of those six were in the victory at Rutgers).
• Carolina did not commit a turnover in two straight games vs. ECU and Clemson. It was the first time since 1996 the Tar Heels played consecutive games without a turnover (since accomplishing that in three straight games against Wake Forest, Maryland and Houston, October 5, 12 and 26, 1996).
• Carolina has had a positive turnover margin in each of the last three seasons. Prior to 2008, Carolina had a negative turnover margin in eight consecutive seasons.
White's Injury Leaves Tar Heels
Thin At Tailback
• Johnny White, North Carolina's leading rusher, broke his clavicle vs. Florida State and is out for the rest of the season. White entered the FSU game second in the ACC in all-purpose yards and third in rushing.
• Shaun Draughn, the 2009 starter, also twisted his ankle against the Seminoles and did not return. He did play sparingly against Virginia Tech with five carries for 18 yards.
• Freshman Giovani Bernard was expected to play this year, but tore his ACL three days into fall camp.
• Senior Ryan Houston, the team's leading rusher a year ago, was cleared from the NCAA investigation after five games, but plans to redshirt and return next season as a fifth-year senior.
• Senior Anthony Elzy has missed one game this year due to a shoulder injury, but was effective last week against Virginia Tech with 184 all-purpose yards.
• Sophomore Hunter Furr entered this year's Florida State game on the Tar Heels' final drive and had three carries for a career-high 27 yards. He had just six rushing yards entering the FSU game. 40-Start Club
• Carolina has four different players who have started 40-or-more games, led by safety Deunta Williams (44). Linebacker Bruce Carter has started 42 and quarterback T.J. Yates and cornerback Kendric Burney have each started 41.
Quarterback T.J. Yates, tailback Johnny White, linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive tackle Tydreke Powell were voted permanent team captains midway through the season. The special teams captains are named at the end of the season and are determined by the coaches' point system.
UNC lost 20 consecutive road games outside the state of North Carolina from 2002 to 2007. Since winning at Rutgers in 2008, Carolina is now 8-5 in games outside the state, including wins over Miami, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia and Florida State.
Carolina has converted 61.0 percent of its fourth down attempts this season (11 of 18), including all four in a win over Clemson. The Tar Heels beat Clemson despite converting more fourth-down chances (4 for 4) than third-down chances (3 for 14).
Quick Strike Offense
• Carolina has scored on its opening offensive drive five times in the last six weeks. The Tar Heels had opening-drive touchdowns against Clemson, Virginia and Florida State, and first possession field goals against Georgia Tech and Miami.
• Overall, North Carolina has scored on its opening drive six times this season – vs. Georgia Tech, Clemson Virginia, Miami and Florida State.
• Johnny White scored on a 4-yard run on Carolina's first possession of the Clemson game. It marked the second time UNC has scored on its first possession (FG vs. Georgia Tech) and the team's first opening-drive touchdown of the season.
• Carolina needed just 1:42 to score on its opening drive at Florida State. Yates hit Dwight Jones for 38 yards on the game's first play. Three plays later, Johnny White scored from six yards out.
• Carolina scored on a 81-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Dwight Jones on the first play from scrimmage at Virginia. Jones caught a crossing route about three yards deep, broke a tackle and then raced to the end zone.
• Carolina has three touchdown "drives" this season under 20 seconds. The Tar Heels scored on a 97-yard TD pass to Jheranie Boyd, which took just 14 seconds. UNC scored on a Dwight Jones reception vs. Virginia on the first play from scrimmage, which took just 17 seconds. Carolina also scored on 17-second drive at Virginia when Yates connected with Pianalto from 1-yard out. That play was set up by Jones' 54-yard reception to the goal line.
NC State Depth Chart
|2010 NC State Depth Chart|
North Carolina Depth Chart
Thanks to NC State and North Carolina Athletics for much of the information in this preview.