Game Day: UNC vs. N.C. State

North Carolina vs. N.C. State<br> Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh<br> Saturday, 2 p.m., <a href=>Pay-per-view</a> <br> <a target=new href="">LIVE STATS</a>

Date: Saturday, Sept. 27, 2003
Time: 2 p.m.
TV: Pay-per-view via Time Warner Cable in Triangle, Greensboro & Charlotte. Steve Martin, play-by-play; Tony Haynes, color analyst.
Site: Raleigh, N.C., Carter-Finley Stadium (51,500, grass)
Series: UNC leads 60-26-6
Records: UNC (0-3, 0-1 ACC); NCSU (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Rankings: Neither team is ranked
Coaches: NCSU – Chuck Amato, 4th season, 28-14 .667; UNC – John Bunting, 3rd season, 11-17-0 .393
Last Meeting: N.C. State 34, UNC 17, Oct. 12, 2002 – Freshman tailback T.A. McLendon rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns, as the Wolfpack erased a 17-7 deficit in the second half. It was the twelfth time in the last 15 meetings that the road team won. UNC quarterback Darian Durant threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
Line: N.C. State by 18

NCSU Depth Chart
UNC Depth Chart


Recap of IC's Game Week Coverage
* Buck: Between the Lines
* Waddell named ACC Specialist of the Week
* Meet the Wolfpack
* Jason Brown's brother killed in Iraq
* UNC players' press conference quotes
* John Bunting press conference quotes
* UNC-NCSU: Pre-game notebook
* Durant, Heels get up for rival Wolfpack


Just one day before the 93rd meeting of the state's most heated rivals, many so-called experts show that the Tar Heels' chances have improved slightly since the beginning of the week, with several of the Wolfpack's top players out and its struggling defense as the wild cards. Carolina goes in search of its fifth-straight win in Raleigh.


This game will be a showcase of two of the league's finest signal callers. NC State's Philip Rivers – ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency and seventh in total offense – has 10,250 total career offense yards and needs just 391 to surpass former Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton as the conference's all-time best. Durant already holds his school's record for touchdown passes in just 13 starts. He brings a rushing threat to the match-up that his counterpart does not possess, but Rivers is unquestionably the superior player at this point.
Advantage: N.C. State

Running Backs
The team with the most rushing yardage has won the last 12 meetings in this series, and since 1993, the Tar Heels have averaged 196.8 yards rushing per game. However this season, UNC is only gaining 115.7 yards per contest on the ground and the running back by committee project has yet to come of age. The Wolfpack actually rush the ball slightly less at 101.8 yards per game, but its ground game is not the reason why State is leading the ACC in total offense and ranked 17th nationally. T.A. McLendon's status was downgraded to doubtful on Friday, but does not change the pick here, as Josh Brown and Cotra Jackson are more than adequate replacements should McLendon be held out.
Advantage: N.C. State

UNC junior wide receiver Jarwarski Pollock leads the ACC in receptions per game (7.67) and ranks fifth in receiving yards per game (77.7). Freshmen Jesse Holley and Mike Mason have already caught touchdown passes and bring an excitement to an already deep and talented unit. It should just be a matter of time before fellow newcomer Adarius Bowman – the Tar Heels' biggest receiver – makes his mark. Wolfpack senior WR Jerricho Cotchery extended his string of games with at least one catch to 30 straight last week versus Texas Tech, but even Rivers will miss injured wideout Sterling Hicks and Richard Washington, who has been suspended indefinitely from the team.
Advantage: UNC

Offensive Line
Even with leader Chris Colmer out so far this season with nerve damage, the Wolfpack line provides excellent protection for Rivers; and that is the most important thing. The Tar Heels offensive line is as deep and experienced as it has been in years, but the running game is still struggling; and last week at Wisconsin, the protection Durant enjoyed in the first two games dropped off considerably.
Advantage: N.C. State

Defensive Front
Carolina didn't miss quite as many tackles and its collective lack of speed was slightly less noticeable at Wisconsin last week. However the interior line, which was perhaps the least exploited area of the front seven in the first two games, was frequently blown off the ball by the Badgers' offensive line. While the Wolfpack has serious problems concerning pass coverage, only two other ACC teams stop the run better.
Advantage: N.C. State

Defensive Backs
N.C. State is giving up 306 yards per game through the air, while the Tar Heels are surrendering 266. Dexter Reid and Mahlon Carey are clearly the best safeties on the team, while UNC boasts a litany of rising hopefuls at the cornerback positions. Still, the current and potential talent has not equated to much on the field success, as the secondary has been torched in all three games. State's defensive backfield is even more porous statistically however, therefore a decisive factor is too difficult to determine.
Advantage: None

Special Teams
Michael Waddell leads the ACC in punt return (14.6) and kickoff return (35.3) average, and nationally he ranks 20th in punt returns and fifth in kickoff returns. Mike Mason is equally as dangerous, providing a one-two punch that put fear into Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez last week. State, on the other hand, is ranked just behind the Tar Heels in punt returns, but last in the ACC in kickoff returns. Carolina's coverage teams have also improved this year, yet the punting game borders on embarrassing. Dan Orner and Adam Kiker are equally solid in the field goal department. Waddell and Mason make the difference here.
Advantage: UNC

Prediction: N.C. State 45, UNC 38

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