When: Saturday, October 3rd, 12:00 PM
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
TV: Raycom Sports
Records: UNC 3-1, 0-1 ACC; UVa 0-3, 0-0 ACC
Virginia has been awful on so many levels this season going back to a 12 point loss to Williams & Mary to lead off the season. It did not get any better versus TCU and at Southern Miss, the Cavaliers led by 17...twice but still lost the game. The only saving grace for UVa was they received a reprieve in the schedule via the bye week and spent two weeks trying to make adjustments. I have no idea if any of them will actually work but given UNC has lost 9 of 11 versus UVa, this game should not be taken lightly.
Last season in Charlottesville, UVa played well enough to keep the UNC offense in check then taking advantage of the infamous Tar Heel prevent late in the game to tie it up forcing OT where they won 16-13. Unfortunately there are no signs that the UNC offense will be much better this season which shifts the burden to the defense to keep UVA off the scoreboard and off the field. The latter is what went so terribly wrong at Georgia Tech and if I were a betting man I would take money on the defense not playing like that again. It was clear Butch Davis was most displeased with the performance of both units last season but more so with the defense for not getting key stops when needed. If the Heels do not come out and play inspired football after what the defensive debacle of last week, I can only painfully speculate over what might happen next.
I personally think the defense will bounce back nicely, helps to some extent by a bad UVa offense. The worry is the offense. With Dwight Jones back opposite Erik Highsmith, getting a passing game going should be fairly easy. The problem lies with the running game and offensive line. UNC needs a big game from someone in the backfield with improved play on the offensive line. Anything short of that against this version of UVa does not bode well for the rest of the season as the Heels face a tough set of defenses. Something along the lines of 100 yards or more from Shaun Draughan with a healthy dose of Ryan Houston running over people would work out immensely.
Despite the dangerous nature of a desperate UVa team, UNC should win this game and it should not be close. Anything else is simply going leave the Heels open to more questions about their toughness coming off a loss not to mention doubts galore.
UNC 35 UVa 10