Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
When: Saturday, October 22nd, Noon
Records: UNC 5-2, 1-2 ACC; Clemson 7-0, 4-0 ACC
I am going to be completely honest here. I don't harbor much in the way of real hope UNC can win this game. First of all, it is on the road in front of one the few "SEC crowds" in the ACC. Secondly, it appears Clemson is the real deal with the nation's 15th ranked offense. The Tigers have a very good quarterback in Tajh Boyd, a solid running back in Andre Ellington and a freshman WR in Sammy Watkins who has been absolutely unstoppable. Given how much trouble UNC has stopping mediocre offenses, I can only imagine how badly this could go for the Heels with against an offense that dropped 55 on Maryland last week. Granted Maryland has one of the worst defenses in the country but UNC's inability to stop a team's passing offense and get off the field with a 3rd down stop does not inspire much confidence.
If there is any sliver of hope for UNC here it is the offense. Like Clemson, UNC has solid contributors at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Going by the stats, Clemson's defense is actually ranked lower than UNC's. The problem there is the Heels' offense has not exactly been striking with a great deal of consistency or aggressiveness. Moving the football has not been an issue but cashing in points certainly was last week against Miami. Add to this UNC's seeming stagnation in terms of overall team improvement, you begin to get the sense UNC simply won't be able to keep up in a shootout.
However a shootout is really UNC's best bet, either that or Clemson starting its typical late season swoon. Mix in a win in the turnover margin and a timely stop or two on defense UNC could put itself in a position to win. Unfortunately, it is difficult to muster much confidence that will happen. Part of that is Clemson being better and the other part is UNC does not have the coaching prowess to prepare the team or make the necessary adjustments to win. Which leaves us resign to moral victories and hoping this doesn't end up like the last visit to Death Valley.
Clemson 38 UNC 24