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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 12:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kenan Stadium (63,000) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: VT 3-0, UNC 3-0. Away Record: VT 0-1, UNC 0-2. Neutral Record: VT 0-1, UNC 0-0. Conference Record: VT 1-0, UNC 0-1. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 18-9-6.
GAME NOTES: Seeking their first home win over Virginia Tech since 1938, the North Carolina Tar Heels welcome the Hokies to Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill this Saturday.
The two teams have met just five times in Chapel Hill since 1938, but Virginia Tech leads the all-time series, 18-9-6, and has not lost to the Tar Heels since joining the ACC in 2004.
Virginia Tech is coming off a tough 27-24 setback at Cincinnati, as Bearcats quarterback Munchie Legaux tossed a game-winning 39-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. It was the second loss in the last three weeks for the Hokies, who were ranked as high as No. 13 before falling to Pittsburgh on Sept. 15. The Hokies will now try to continue their dominance in the state of North Carolina, where they are 13-0 in ACC regular-season games since joining the league.
North Carolina is coming off a 66-0 rout of Idaho, marking the second time this season the team has topped 60 points. Both of the Tar Heels' losses came on the road, while they are 3-0 at home. Their margin of victory in those three wins was by a combined 149 points, while the margin in the losses was just six points.
Virginia Tech racked up 402 yards against Cincinnati (330 in the second half) and scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, yet it was not enough to earn the victory. The offense went on a six-play, 93-yard touchdown drive to take the lead with 1:49 to play, but the Bearcats responded with the decisive scoring drive of their own. Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas completed 17-of-30 passes for 242 yards, as he threw for a touchdown and ran for another. However, he was also intercepted twice in the second half. Interceptions have become an issue for Thomas, who has been picked off six times in the last three weeks, with his team losing two of those contests.
After the Virginia Tech offense went ahead with just under two minutes to play, the defense gave up a nine-play, 85-yard drive by Cincinnati. The Hokies forced a 3rd-and-10 from their own 39 and James Gayle was close to sacking Legaux on the play. However, the Bearcats signal-caller avoided the sack and tossed a perfect strike to a wide open Damon Julian in the end zone. After the game, defensive back Kyle Fuller took responsibility for letting Julian get behind him. Still, the Hokies put themselves in that position by turning the ball over and softening up defensively as the game progressed. After holding Cincinnati to a pair of field goals in the first half, the defense let the Bearcats score three TDs in the game's final 22 minutes.
UNC set a single-game school record with 66 points against Idaho, also setting the mark for largest margin of victory. The Tar Heels now rank second in the ACC and 12th in the country with an average of 43.2 ppg. They jumped all over Idaho with a 28-0 first-quarter advantage, out-gaining the Vandals 239-18 in the opening frame. UNC's 45 points at halftime was the team's highest scoring output in a half since scoring 52 against Duke in 2000. The Tar Heels finished with a season-high 575 yards, including a season-best 287 yards on the ground. Quarterback Bryn Renner and tailback Giovani Bernard have formed a potent one- two punch, piling up points through the air and on the ground. Renner leads the ACC and is tied for fifth in the country with 14 touchdown passes. He has had multiple passing TDs in four of five games this season. Bernard, despite playing in just three games, ranks third in the ACC with seven touchdowns.
After not pitching a shutout since 1999, UNC has already shutout two opponents this year -- the first time the team has shutout two opponents in the same season since 1996. The Tar Heels have held the opposition without a touchdown for 10 consecutive quarters, and in fact no team has scored a touchdown against them at Kenan Stadium this season. UNC's last two opponents (East Carolina and Idaho) have combined for only 422 total yards and six points, as the Tar Heels are now ranked 16th nationally in total defense (296.0 ypg) and 19th in scoring defense (14.6 ppg). Last week, they held Idaho to just nine first downs and forced 10 punts. UNC's defense also notched four interceptions on the day.
North Carolina has given up just six points at home this season, whereas Virginia Tech is seeking a 24th consecutive victory in its ACC road opener, a streak that dates back to 1962. Something has to give in this matchup, but perhaps the biggest key will be the Hokies' confidence level after losing for the second time in three games and stumbling out of the national rankings.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 34, Virginia Tech 31
10/03 10:45:18 ET
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