North Carolina vs NC State, 12:30 PM, ACC Network
UNC welcomes NC State to Kenan Stadium in the second of two straight rivalry games for the Tar Heels. Last week, UNC took care of Duke and brought the Victory Bell back to Chapel Hill. Now UNC faces the Wolfpack with both teams seeking a seven win regular season and slightly better positioning in the bowl pecking order. In UNC's case a win puts the Heels at 5-3 in the ACC for the second time in three years.
Speaking of which, this game carries a couple of interesting stakes in terms of defining the Larry Fedora era. Fedora is seeking his third straight win over NC State. The last Tar Heel coach to do that was John Bunting between 2004-2006. Bunting was also the last Tar Heel coach to beat both Duke and NC State in the same season. Butch Davis and Everett Withers had little trouble with the former but could never beat the latter. Fedora opened up his tenure at UNC with a pair of wins over NC State but until this season a win over Duke had proven elusive. The Triangle rivalry sweep would be a nice feather in Fedora's fedora. Also at stake is a second five win ACC season for Fedora which never happened under Butch Davis and last occurred with...John Bunting.
In terms of the game, UNC will again lean heavily on Marquise Williams who has been an offensive catalyst all season. However, the dynamics for the offense have really changed with the emergence of T.J. Logan as a productive option in the running game. Logan ran for 92 yards against Pitt then followed that up with 116 yards against Duke. Logan's rushing makes the read option even more effective since defenses must honor both Williams and Logan as threats.
In the passing game, Mack Hollins has been quiet during the past two games but the slack has been taken up by Quinshad David and Ryan Switzer. Davis needs to just one more receiving touchdown to tie Hakeem Nicks for career touchdown receptions at UNC. Switzer, as always, is a wild card to break open a screen pass for a big run or get behind the defense on a down field route. UNC has enough weapons to make defending the Tar Heel offense difficult.
And no preview would be complete if the possibility of a Switzer punt return for a touchdown wasn't mentioned. After running five back last season, Switzer is on the verge of being shut out in the regular season. Since the memories of the Gio Bernard punt return for a touchdown to beat NC State is still fresh in everyone's memories, a Switzer return for one in this game would be the ultimate troll.
UNC 44 NCSU 31