Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
When: Saturday, October 18th, 3:30 PM
Records: UNC 5-1, 1-1 ACC; UVA 3-3, 1-1 ACC
This game really gets summed up by three questions:
1. Can UNC overcome another key injury?
I have no idea mainly because no one knows for sure how they are filling Brandon Tate's slot. The coventional wisdom is UNC cannot completely replace Tate but they will get something from the guys they have. Will it be enough or will the loss of Tate so rock the working dynamics of this team that all the offensive parts which have worked mistake free will suddenly come to a crashing halt? There is a strong possibility that will happen or that Cam Sexton simply has a bad game which has yet to happen since he came back as a starter. What would be nice is if UNC manages a kickoff or punt return without Tate. In fact I think we might see exactly that which would really shake things up since that is the area of greatest concern as it relates to Tate's injury.
2. Can UNC stop Cedric Peerman for the whole game?
Peerman's full return has sparked the Cavalier offense to the tune of 33 points a game against Maryland and ECU. Stopping him will be an exceedingly tall order especially with the defensive line a little on the beat up side. UNC also continues to play with proverbial fire by giving up so much in terms of yardage but correcting that shortcoming with a timely interception or two. Given UNC's INT rate there is also a good chance it ends with a Tar Heel touchdown. Those opportunities might be few and far in between if UVa is content to run the ball more so stopping their ground game is a hugh task. Not only that but UNC cannot afford to get worn down by the 4th quarter or Peerman could bust a close game wide open.
3. Can UNC win in Charlottesviile?
1981. In fall of 1981 the basketball team opened practice for their national title winning season with some kid named Michael Jordan on the roster. Needless to say that is a lot of water under the bridge and while it is not on the same level as Clemson being completely helpless when they wander onto the Dean Dome floor, the losing streak in Charlottesville is beginning to be quite annoying. In what bodes to be a tough game, I am sure the coaches are doing everything possible to avoid the losing streak at UVa being an additional pressure. However, players apply the pressure to themselves anyway and there is likely more than one Tar Heel player who would love to be part of the team that finally won in Charlottesville for the first time since Ronald Reagan's first term. You also have wild and crazy Coasal Division which UNC needs to run the table and hope Virginia Tech loses twice. In one respect the streak is inconsequential compared to finishing a season in Tampa.
This team has been cohesive and been able to find a way even when one was not readily apparent. In much the same way UNC lost games last season they seem to be winning with great resilency and team effort. The team aspect gives me hope that this Tar Heel squad can endure a multitude of injuries and somehow make it through. So despite the injuries, the streak and the fact UNC could be due a bad game I am going to cast my lot with believing that UNC can rise above the decades of futility at Scott Stadim to pull out yet another win despite the enormous adversity associated with it.
Time to take care of this silly losing streak once and for all. Who is with me?
UNC 24 UVa 20