Game Day: UNC vs. Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --- North Carolina (1-5, 0-3 ACC) is playing on Thursday night for just the second time under head coach John Bunting's watch. The Tar Heels face a team that is also struggling in Virginia (2-5, 1-2 ACC). The game will kickoff on ESPN at 7:45 p.m.

In search of its first conference win and its first win over a Division I opponent this year, UNC will also be trying to avoid its first four-game losing skid since the 2003 season.

"I recognize these losses have been tough on the players -- they've been tough on the coaches," said Bunting. "But you've got to move on. ... I focus on the opportunity we have Thursday night."

The only other time Carolina was on ESPN's Thursday night special during this millennium ended in a 28-21 loss at Georgia Tech during the 2001 campaign.

Other factors working against the Tar Heels include a 12-game losing streak in Charlottesville dating back to 1981.

"I don't look back on things ... I look forward," Bunting said. "This is a different team. This is a different time. And it's a different opportunity, and the opportunity is great. So my thinking about all that is, let's go up there and have fun on Thursday night football."

This, the 111th meeting between the two schools, is the oldest rivalry in the ACC and the fifth-most played series in NCAA history.

IC's Game Week Coverage

  • LBs Move Up, Over
  • Edwards Out for Season
  • 10 Key Facts About Virginia
  • Print Your Gameday Guides
  • John Bunting PC Quotes + Audio
  • Kareen Taylor Q&A
  • Connor Barth Q&A
  • Larry Edwards Q&A
  • Despite its disappointing season, the Cavaliers are the first opponent Carolina has faced with a losing record. Going into this week, the Sagarin rating system has the Tar Heels' strength of schedule ranked at 27th toughest in the country.

    "Our whole mentality is to prepare for their best game of the season," said Virginia head coach Al Groth about facing the Tar Heels. "While we perhaps played our best game of the season last week (a 28-26 home loss to Maryland), in the end result it wasn't good enough."

    In last year's match-up in Chapel Hill, tailback Ronnie McGill ran for 118 yards, and Cedrick Holt made a key interception late in a defensive struggle the Tar Heels ultimately won over then-23rd ranked UVa, 7-5.

    Carolina had just returned home after giving up 69 points at Louisville.

    McGill is currently ranked 12th all-time at UNC with 1,938 rushing yards. He's tied for eighth with 22 rushing touchdowns.

    Although he's yet to rush for 100 yards in a game this season, and his goal of being the first Carolina back to reach 1,000 yards in a season since 1997 appears out of reach, McGill and teammate Barrington Edwards could find the going easier against the Cavs' rushing defense ranked 55th in the nation.

    "It's because of a lack of consistency that we haven't run the ball as effectively as I'd like to," Bunting said.

    "This is the beginning of the second half of the season for us," Bunting said. "Yeah, we've limped some with a few injuries - you've got to put that behind you. Let's go on."


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