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Game Day: UNC vs. ASU

North Carolina vs. Arizona State<br> Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill<br> Saturday, 1:35 p.m.<br> <a target=new href="http://livestats.tarheelblue.ocsn.com/livestats/data/m-footbl/182220/">LIVE STATS</a>

Date: Saturday, Oct. 18, 2003
Time: 1:35 p.m.
TV: None
Site: Kenan Stadium (60,000)
Records: Arizona State (3-3, 1-2 PAC-10); UNC (1-5, 0-3 ACC)
Series: Tied, 1-1
Rankings: Neither team is ranked
Coaches: Arizona State – Dirk Koetter, 3rd season, 15-16-0 .484; UNC – John Bunting, 3rd season, 12-19-0 .387
Last Meeting: UNC 38, Arizona State 35; Oct. 5, 2001, Tempe, Ariz.
Line: Arizona State by 6

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Recap of IC's Game Week Coverage
* Buck: Between the Lines
* Meet the Sun Devils
* UNC mid-week notebook
* Andrew Walter press conference
* John Bunting press conference
* Dirk Koetter press conference

OVERVIEW

Alas, the Tar Heels get another opportunity to halt its nine-game home losing streak against the Sun Devils, which has the ability to roll up huge numbers through the air. In their last meeting, ASU posted 657 yards of total offense aided by quarterback Andrew Walter's then-career best 474 passing yards.

Carolina will be looking to put together back-to-back victories for the first time since winning three straight to close the 2001 season.

MATCH-UPS

Quarterbacks
If history has any ideas of repeating itself, this will be a showcase of two quarterbacks. Darian Durant set single-game school records in total offense (426 yards) and passing yards (417) in last year's match-up. Walter has 43 career touchdown passes, which ranks him 30th in the PAC-10 all-time in just his junior season. With beautiful blue skies as the forecasted backdrop, the football should fly freely through the air in this one. Durant outdueled Walter last season and his rushing capability always gives opposing defenses fits.
Advantage: UNC

Running Backs
Carolina appeared to get its running game on track in the second half against ECU, with Chad Scott enjoying his best game to date as a Tar Heel. It may be advantageous for UNC to shorten the game Saturday in order to slow down Walter, and that could be accomplished by a sustained rushing attack. During practice this week, UNC defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable said he was concerned about ASU tailback Hakim Hill with fullback Mike Karney leading the way. While neither team hangs its offensive hat on the rush, this could turn out to be the decisive area if the two teams' passing cancels each other out. Amazingly, all five of the Sun Devils' touchdowns in the 2001 meeting were scored on the ground.
Advantage: Arizona State

Receivers
The Sun Devils will certainly not be surprised by Jarwarski Pollock, who caught four passes for 90 yards last year, including a 65-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. They will not however, have had the opportunity of playing against budding superstar Mike Mason. ASU's Skyler Fulton, Daryl Lightfoot and Derek Hagan return as well. The three combined for 227 yards and 14 receptions in the previous meeting.
Advantage: None

Offensive Line
The Tar Heels offensive front provided much better protection and run blocking last week. A similar follow up effort versus ASU would go along ways to enabling Carolina to control the clock. The Sun Devils are just as big and experienced, and have been more consistent this season.
Advantage: Arizona State

Defensive Front
Ever so slowly, the Tar Heels have been improving against the run. Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Seawright and Chase Page are beginning to get more and more push off the snap. With the integration of more athleticism at the linebacker position and Alden Blizzard's potential developing at end, there is hope that the improvement will continue. But Carolina will have to get pressure on Walter, or face the consequences. ASU' defense has rung up 21 quarterback sacks already this season – second-best in its conference – while allowing just 130 yards per game on the ground.
Advantage: Arizona State

Secondary
Against the Pirates, Lionell Green showed flashes of being the shut down corner that he was advertised to be. But the Tar Heels' secondary will be severely tested by proven athletes who know how to get open downfield. The Sun Devil's defensive backfield is arguably one of the best in the country, led by Jason Shivers, Riccardo Stewart and R.J. Oliver.
Advantage: Arizona State

Special Teams
The Tar Heels continue to be consistent in all aspects of its special teams' play, except punting. The Sun Devils' return team has been solid, but unable to spring Lightfoot or Josh Golden loose. They have one of the best punters in the country as well in Tim Parker. But with Mason and Michael Waddell, Carolina has the ability to get big chunks of yardage via the return. The Tar Heels will need a big day on special teams in order maintain good field position.
Advantage: UNC

Prediction: Arizona State 41, UNC 27


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