North Carolina at Virginia, 12:30 PM, ACC Network
After a difficult week where the Wainstein Report blew a gaping hole in UNC's reputation, the attention can return to the football field where Larry Fedora is hoping further extinguish the dumpster fire from the first half of the season. The task won't be easy as UNC heads to Charlottesville, the site of many Tar Heels losses but none since 2008.
As discussed in the stat comparison post, this game comes down to how well each team's strength does against the other team's strength. The Cavaliers boast a stout defense which is second in the ACC in yards per rushing attempt allowed, giving up 3.03 yards per carry. The passing defense is not nearly as impressive ranking seventh in yards per passing attempting and 13th in yards per game allowed in the air. Balancing the yardage in the passing game is pressure on the quarterback. Virginia is 4th in the ACC with 22 sacks. UNC's offensive line, which has played better of late, will have its hands full. This is also a situation where Marquise Williams mobility and gratuitous use of the read option should play a role.
On the flip side of the equation, Virginia doesn't set the world on fire offensive and UNC struggles to stop even bad offensive teams(see Virginia Tech.) The question in this game is which unit makes the opposing unit look like world beaters. Will UNC's defense look significantly better facing a struggling offense or does Virginia have one of its better offensive days of the season. The biggest concern for UNC defensively will be Cavalier running back Kevin Parks who is averaging 71 yards per game but only 4.18 yards per carry. In the two games against UNC during the Larry Fedora era, Parks has run for 153 yards on 36 carries and one touchdown. Obviously the UNC defense is worst that it has been for two years so it will be worth watching if Parks can exploit that for a bigger game.
After the past week, UNC could really use a win. UNC needs a win for bowl eligibility reasons and because the Coastal Division is still up for grabs. The Tar Heels also need a win to serve as a balm for the severe burns left by the Wainstein Report. It will be a brief relief at best but at least it will be something to take everyone's minds off the academic troubles for an afternoon.
UNC 35 Virginia 31