North Carolina (1-0) at Wake Forest (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 8, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: BB&T Field (31,500) -- Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Television: RSN. Home Record: North Carolina 1-0, Wake Forest 1-0. Away Record: North Carolina 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Neutral Record: North Carolina 0-0, UMass 0-0. Conference Record: North Carolina 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 68-34-2.
GAME NOTES: A pair of local rivals from the Atlantic Coast Conference meet up in Winston-Salem, as the North Carolina Tar Heels invade BB&T Field Saturday afternoon to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
This will be the second home game for Wake Forest in the first two weeks of the season. The first go-around was a tight contest for the Demon Deacons, who narrowly edged Liberty 20-17 in front of their home crowd. Wake Forest is now 71-38-2 all-time in home openers but just 52-56-3 in season openers.
North Carolina also had an FCS opponent at home in its season opener but had a much easier time, as the Tar Heels dispatched Elon 62-0. The win was the first for Larry Fedora, who took over leading Southern Miss to the Conference USA crown last season.
North Carolina posted a 49-24 victory last year in Chapel Hill, ending a two- game skid to Wake Forest. The Tar Heels now lead the all-time series 68-34-2.
North Carolina had little to nothing to complain about after the first game of the season. The offense was explosive and posted 41 points in the first half en route to the 62-0 win. The 41 first half points were the most in a first half by the Tar Heels since 2009. The final margin of victory was the largest since 1995.
On the day North Carolina had 524 total yards, spearheaded by the passing of Bryn Renner (14-for-21, 236 yards and three scores) and the running of Giovani Bernard (nine carries, 94 yards, one touchdown). Renner spread the wealth all day with 14 different receivers catching at least one pass in the game.
The Tar Heels also benefited from some excellent field position throughout the day thanks to strong special teams by the punt coverage unit. For the game the Heels had 260 punt return yards which set a new school and ACC record. Bernard, who also had a pair of TD receptions, was a major player in the return game as well, with 100 punt return yards including a 70-yard return. The sophomore finished with a game-high 203 all purpose yards.
The defense could feel equally good about itself after posting the first shutout by a North CArolina squad since 1999. Fedora also became the first UNC coach to record a shutout in his debut since 1945.
As a unit the Tar Heels held Elon to just 170 total yards on offense and also forced four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions. The Heels were especially stingy against the run, allowing only 42 yards on 36 carries for a minuscule 1.2 yards-per-carry average. Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams got into the backfield throughout the day and recorded a pair of sacks. As a team, North Carolina had 11 tackles for loss.
It was not a banner day for the Wake Forest offense against Liberty with the Demon Deacons managing to score only 20 points, 13 of which came from an offense that produced just 293 total yards. Wake Forest has failed to score more than 20 points in each of its last three games dating back to last season. In fact Wake Forest was out-gained by Liberty, which tallied 363 total yards.
The performance was not that surprising considering the Demon Deacons return only three starters on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Tanner Price completed 16-of-28 pass attempts for 195 yards, while also being picked off once and throwing for a score. Price became only the seventh player in Wake Forest history to reach 400 career completions in the game. He currently has 406. Also returning to a starting role is wideout Michael Campanaro, who led the team with nine receptions for 96 yards and a score in the opener.
One of the players making a good impression while seeing extended action for the first time was running back DeAndre Martin. The redshirt freshman had a solid day, rushing for 80 yards and a touchdown.
The defense played a bit better, including A.J. Marshall's interception return for a touchdown that proved to be the winning score for Wake Forest.
Last season the Demon Deacons allowed nearly 400 yards per game and against Liberty were near that mark, surrendering 363. Wake Forest still held Liberty to only 17 points and just a single red zone trip in the game.
Linebacker Riley Haynes and cornerback Kevin Johnson each recorded 10 tackles, which was a team high.
North Carolina posted a dominating win in its opener, while excelling in all facets of the game. Wake Forest just scraped by against a team from the same level of competition. Expect the Tar Heels to go into BB&T Field and come away with their second win of the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 38, Wake Forest 21
09/05 10:35:30 ET