FACTS & STATS: Site: Scott Stadium (61,500) — Charlottesville, Virginia.
Television: ACC Network. Home Record: UNC 3-1, Virginia 4-1. Away Record: UNC
0-3, Virginia 0-2. Neutral Record: UNC 0-0, Virginia 0-0. Conference Record:
UNC 1-2, Virginia 2-1. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 60-54-4.
GAME NOTES: The North Carolina Tar Heels seek their first road win of the
season, when they take on the Virginia Cavaliers in an ACC showdown at Scott
Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It’s true that Larry Fedora’s team has yet to win a road game in 2014, but
that is a little misleading, considering UNC’s three away games have come at
East Carolina, Clemson and Notre Dame, all of which are currently ranked in
the Top-25. The team was able to finally end a four-game losing streak with an
entertaining 48-43 shootout win over Georgia Tech last weekend.
Mike London entered this season on a hot seat in Charlottesville, but the
Cavaliers have cooled that chair a bit with a solid first half that has the
team at 4-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play. The team has solid wins over
Louisville and Pittsburgh in league play, but does enter this game off its
first conference loss, last week’s 20-13 setback at Duke.
Dubbed the “Oldest Rivalry in the South,” only Minnesota/Wisconsin and
Missouri/Kansas have played more times then North Carolina and Virginia. The
Tar Heels hold a 60-54-4 edge in the all-time series which dates back to 1892.
UNC has won four straight meetings, its longest streak in the series since
It was once again the Marquise Williams show last week, as UNC’s dual threat
quarterback and his 898 total offensive yards in the last two games set a
school-record. Williams is one of just six players in the nation who leads his
team in both passing and rushing, completing 64.5 percent of his passes, for
1,776 yards and 15 TDs, while rushing for 448 yards and four more scores.
A deep receiving corps is headlined by Ryan Switzer (34 rec, 429 yds, 3 TDs),
Mack Hollins (24 rec, 435 yds, 5 TDs), Bug Howard (23 rec, 197 yds, 2 TDs) and
Quinshad Davis (21 rec, 267 yds, 4 TDs).
The Tar Heels are putting up a healthy 38.7 ppg this year, but unfortunately,
have to fight tooth and nail for victories, as they rank 124th in the nation
in scoring defense, allowing a whopping 43.3 ppg. Teams have gashed UNC both
on the ground and through the air this season, with North Carolina yielding
522.3 yards per game (119th nationally).
Sophomore cornerback Des Lawrence and junior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer are
tied for the team lead with 44 tackles each. Schoettmer also has two
interceptions to his credit, trailing only sophomore cornerback Brian Walker
(3) in that category. A stagnant pass rush has resulted in just 13 sacks in
the first seven games, with junior tackle Jessie Rogers’ three sacks leading
Virginia has had plenty of offensive success this season, although perhaps not
on the level of North Carolina. The Cavaliers are averaging a healthy 29.0 ppg
on 407.3 yards of total offense. It has been a balanced attack between the run
(171.7 ypg) and the pass (235.6 ypg) that has kept opponents guessing.
The quarterback position is young, with sophomores Greyson Lambert and Matt
Johns getting the work. Lambert has missed the last three games and is listed
as questionable for this contest with an ankle injury. Both players have done
a decent job under center, with Lambert completing 65 percent of his throws,
for 564 yards and two TDs, while Johns has a .558 completion percentage, for
1,012 yards and eight TDs.
The team’s top offensive threat however, is senior tailback Kevin Parks. The
5-foot-8, 200-pounder has started the last 19 games in the backfield and
handles most of the carries, leading Virginia with 5-2 yards (4.2 ypc) and
Virginia’s defense has played well for the most part, yielding just 22.1 ppg
this year. Big plays have been the norm in Charlottesville these days, with
the Cavs racking up 23 sacks and forcing 19 turnovers in the first seven
Freshman safety Quin Blanding has been a revelation for the defense, making an
immediate impact with his playmaking ability. The 6-4, 215-pound youngster
leads the ACC in tackles with 70 stops and all freshmen nationally for that
matter. Linebacker Henry Coley (43 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks) and Max Valles
(27 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks) and defensive end Eli Harold (36 tackles, 8.5
TFL, 5.5 sacks) have caused the opposition fits with their upfield tenacity.
The Tar Heels certainly have the offensive weapons to challenge any team in
the country, but unfortunately, the defense usually gives it all back and then
some. Expect the Cavaliers to move the ball at will and do just enough on
defense to earn a narrow victory here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 37, North Carolina 30