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Tale of the Tape: UNC vs NC State

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Here is how UNC matches up with NC State

North Carolina NC State
Record 6-5 6-5
ACC Record 4-3 2-5
AP Poll Rank N/R N/R
Points Per Game 36.7 29.4
Total TDs 56 42
Total Offense Per Game 445.3 397.3
Total Offense Per Play 6.6 6.1
Rushing Per Game 156.3 189.5
Rushing Per Att 4.5 5.5
Passing Per Game 289.0 207.8
Passing Per Att 7.5 6.8
Fumbles Lost 8 14
Interceptions 11 6
3rd Down Conv. 42.8% 44.9%
4th Down Conv. 50.0% 50.0%
Red Zone Conv. 89.4% 86.1%
Field Goals 6-11 10-14
Points Allowed Per Game 39.3 28.8
Total Defense Per Game 499.5 388.2
Total Defense Per Play 6.4 5.5
Rushing Per Game 218.0 188.8
Rushing Per Att 4.8 4.5
Passing Per Game 281.5 199.4
Passing Per Att 8.6 6.9
Fumbles Recovered 11 10
Interceptions 12 7
Sacks 20.0 24.0
Tackles for Loss 63.0 73.0
3rd Down Conv. 49.7% 50.6%
4th Down Conv. 80.0% 54.6%
Red Zone Conv. 87.0% 79.5%

Since this is a rivalry game, we should throw the numbers out right?

Not quite.

UNC enters this game with discernible advantages on the offensive side and the defensive numbers now just slightly less putrid than they previous were. The Duke game was a salve of sorts boosting the overall offensive numbers and bringing the defensive futility down just a tad. UNC's yards per game allowed is now a smidge under 500 and the points allowed per game has dipped below 40. Yes, it's still awful and no one should celebrate it but after a season of watching the defense track the wrong direction, it's nice to see the trend reverse.

NC State is fairly pedestrian across the board statistically speaking but if the Tar Heel defense of the whole season shows up, the Wolfpack could exceed expectations. The question is whether last week's defensive fortitude was an outlier or the Tar Heels finally getting a grasp on how to play effective defense? If it is the latter, then UNC could cruise through this game as it did against Duke.

The Wolfpack have only given up 28 ppg this season but 34.7 ppg in ACC play. The only two games NCSU didn't give up 30 points or more against ACC foes was in the two wins over Syracuse and Wake Forest. Marquise Williams could be a major issue for NC State but that has been the case for most UNC opponents this season. The points trend would indicate UNC is more likely to go for 30 or more points against NC State leaving the game to be decided on how well the Tar Heel defense plays.