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Tale of the Tape: UNC-NC State

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Comparing the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack.

When UNC has the ball

UNC(Offense) NC State(Defense)
Points per game 40.9 21.8
Yards per game 490.5 312.5
Yards per play 7.44 5.06
Passing yards 273.9 189.4
Passing YPA 9.8 6.7
Rushing Yards 216.55 123.1
Rushing YPA 5.7 3.7
Turnovers 12 18
3rd Down Conv. 46.83% 31.1%
4th Down Conv. 60.00% 33.3%
Red Zone Conv. 90.91% 86.4%

When UNC is on defense

UNC(Defense) NC State(Offense)
Points per game 19.5 33.6
Yards per game 384.1 402.6
Yards per play 5.15 5.6
Passing yards 184.9 210.9
Passing YPA 6.0 6.7
Rushing Yards 199.2 191.7
Rushing YPA 4.54 4.8
Turnovers 23 10
3rd Down Conv. 40.48% 39.6%
4th Down Conv. 65.38% 59.1%
Red Zone Conv. 78.38% 84.4%

Statistically this is a fairly even match-up. UNC has an edge of the offensive side of the ball with more explosive offense. Both teams have respectable scoring defense with NC State's run defense holding teams under four yards per play on the ground.

Of course the stats might not matter given this is a rivalry game and contests between these two teams often descend to a weird place that defies analysis. Last year is a prime example of this. UNC, coming off a beatdown of Duke and with an offense that had been pretty effective, was crushed by the Wolfpack's defensive line. The Tar Heels also didn't appear to show up for that game mentally  Those are the kind of factors that can negate what's on paper.

Ultimately these two teams are fairly even and the game will likely play out that way with a couple of caveats. If UNC has trouble holding onto the ball as it did last week, NCSU could certainly capitalize. The other is UNC's ability to hit explosive plays and blow a seemingly tight game wide open in a matter of minutes. NC State's defense has been good but then again so was Duke's before the Tar Heels got hold of it.

In short, there is an emotional factor but assuming the Tar Heels are locked in, UNC should be able to exploit its advantages.