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UNC vs. Georgia State: Game Preview

Carolina travels to another Sun Belt opponent on Saturday.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Appalachian State Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off the highest-scoring game in program history, and are back on the road against another Sun Belt Conference opponent.

Carolina is the first Power Five team to visit Georgia State.

Georgia State’s 35-14 loss last week at South Carolina is deceiving on its face. After both teams had a scoreless first quarter, the Panthers were down just five points at the half.

Georgia State scored first in the second half, holding a 14-12 lead for just a passing moment. The Gamecocks’ special teams were the difference in the second half, scoring touchdowns on two blocked punts.

Just based on this small sample size, the primary matchups for tomorrow’s game will be the GSU rushing attack versus the UNC front 11, and the Panthers’ secondary versus Drake Maye and the Carolina receivers and tight ends.

Georgia State’s running game is off to a hot start this season. GSU’s running back by committee racked up 200 yards against South Carolina last week.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Georgia State at South Carolina
Quarterback Darren Grainger (3)
Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Two running backs, Jamyest Williams and Tucker Gregg each had double-digit carries last week. Gregg ranks third on the all-time GSU run list, while Williams comes in at seventh.

Quarterback Darren Grainger had 11 runs totaling 43 yards.

Williams led all rushers in last week’s game with 76 yards on the ground.

Interestingly enough, Carolina has faced Williams in the past. He was a member of South Carolina’s 2019 team, playing defense for the Gamecocks for three seasons.

While Georgia State’s running game was moving the ball, the passing attack struggled.

Grainger went just 7-29 for 111 yards. He tallied one touchdown and one interception.

Grainger’s primary target was Jamari Thrash, who reeled in four receptions for 70 yards.

The Panthers ended last week with more yards gained than South Carolina, but special teams were the difference-maker in the game.

Based on last week’s bookends of bad defense, there has to be a concern for the UNC run defense.

With GSU keeping the option as part of their play-calling, there could be trouble for a Carolina defense that struggled on runs outside of the tackles and in open space in the flats.

In drawing parallels to the offense, the Georgia State run defense allowed just 79 yards on the ground. GSU was helped out by containing the South Carolina quarterback, who ended with -12 yards on his run total.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Georgia State at South Carolina Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Going back to last season, this is the fourth-straight game that GSU has held an opponent under 100 yards rushing.

Over the past two seasons, Georgia State has led all Group of Five teams with 73 sacks. They added three more against South Carolina. This pressure goes along with seven tackles for loss and six hurries.

The Panthers allowed 227 yards through the air, but there were bright spots for the secondary.

Cornerback Quavian White had two interceptions, two tackles for loss, one sack, a pass breakup, and five total tackles. Those two picks pushed White into a tie for the career Georgia State record with nine.

The offensive line has done a good job providing time for Maye in pass protection. With the success GSU has had up front, there can be no snaps off for the UNC big guys.

This Carolina team is still trying to find itself. Not every game can be a track meet, and the defense has to step up.

This GSU played South Carolina tough, and based on the Panthers’ recent tangles with SEC opponents, they find ways to punch above their weight.

UNC is just a 7.5-point favorite, and this will likely be a favorite for bettors looking for some likely underdogs.

Let’s hope the Tar Heels dig deep and make the necessary improvements on both sides of the ball.


UNC 42

GSU 24



This poll is closed

  • 68%
    UNC -7.5
    (34 votes)
  • 32%
    GSU +7.5
    (16 votes)
50 votes total Vote Now



This poll is closed

  • 71%
    (35 votes)
  • 28%
    (14 votes)
49 votes total Vote Now