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Tale of the Tape: UNC-Illinois

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the numbers for UNC's match-up with Illinois.

When UNC has the ball

UNC(Offense) Illinois(Defense)
Points per game 33.0 1.5
Yards per game 451.5 193.0
Yards per attempt 6.7 2.9
Passing yards 240.0 114.5
Passing YPA 8.3 3.6
Rushing Yards 211.5 78.5
Rushing YPA 5.5 2.3
Turnovers 3 6
3rd Down Conv. 50.0% 12.1%
4th Down Conv. 33.3% 28.6%
Red Zone Conv. 66.7% 0.0%

When UNC is on defense

UNC(Defense) Illinois(Offense)
Points per game 15.5 48.0
Yards per game 333.5 421.0
Yards per attempt 4.9 5.3
Passing yards 129.0 280.5
Passing YPA 5.3 6.8
Rushing Yards 204.5 140.5
Rushing YPA 4.7 3.7
Turnovers 3 5
3rd Down Conv. 46.7% 38.7%
4th Down Conv. 33.3% 100.0%
Red Zone Conv. 75.0% 100.0%

The numbers say this will be a stiff test for UNC's offense. Illinois' defensive numbers through two games are downright filthy. Granted the competition hasn't been great but still the Illini have put a stranglehold opponents through the first two weeks. Illinois has yet to give up a touchdown, held the first opponents to a paltry 2.9 yards per play and limited 3rd down conversions to just 12%.

As Paul noted, the level of competition matters considering Illinois was almost as awful statistically as UNC last season. Like UNC, Illinois' defense would certainly improve but probably not to this level. Still, UNC will be challenged  on the offensive side of the ball to produce against this defense.

UNC's defense will also see perhaps its first real test of the season even though this will be the second Power 5 team the Heels have faced. South Carolina's offense wasn't particularly good, especially at quarterback. The only traction the Gamecocks managed was from direct snap runs, something NC A&T also had success with last week. Illini QB Wes Lunt is experienced and has solid numbers. For the first time UNC's Gene Chizik led defense could be facing a quarterback with the ability to pick the secondary apart.  If the secondary has truly improved over last season, this game will serve as a solid test of that.