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UNC vs. Virginia: Game Preview

Trap game, shmap game. It’s time for Carolina to show the ACC whose game this is.

NCAA Football: William & Mary at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

After a thorough beating of Miami last weekend (don’t let the +10 margin fool you, those garbage time scores flattered the Hurricanes), North Carolina finds itself on the precipice of achieving something many thought impossible. Back-to-back appearances in the ACC championship game, and perhaps... a conference title?

A lot of hurdles still need to be cleared before we engage in that kind of heavy talk, but if UNC is a serious contender (which I believe they are), Virginia needs to be dealt with. Carolina has earned the right to approach this game with swagger rather than fear. UVA is outmatched and outclassed, and if the Tar Heels play to their potential and capability, there’s no reason why the Cavs won’t retreat to Charlottesville with another L on their head.

Carolina needs to announce its intentions to the ACC and the college football world like LA Knight:

For the last two seasons, UNC’s defense has had a rough go with defending back-up quarterbacks. Even this year, App State’s Joey Aguilar did a good enough job to push the Heels to double overtime, throwing for 275 yards and rushing for 42 more.

The good news for Carolina going into this Saturday’s matchup with Virginia? The back-up is already playing.

Virginia announced in their depth chart this week that senior quarterback Tony Muskett will lead the Wahoos into Kenan Stadium. He has been pedestrian to say the least, but he was at the helm when Virginia got their first win of the season against William & Mary. He’s averaging an awful 29.6 QBR in his two starts against W&M and Boston College (Drake Maye is averaging 83.7 as a comparison). He’s not a rushing threat and he doesn’t pile up passing yards. The only thing he does better than Anthony Colandrea is not throw interceptions.

Muskett started the season against Tennessee, but shit the bed so badly that Colandrea made a relief appearance against the Vols and then started the next three games. What happened during those three games? Colandrea threw just five touchdowns against six interceptions.

If Carolina’s defense gets pulled apart by either of these two, then we deserve every bit of online abuse we’ll receive.

You hate to pile on, but there’s more bad news for Virginia. The absentee list is... substantial.

Linebacker Lex Long is out for the season, after requiring surgery for a lingering injury. Cornerback Dre Walker, linebacker Josh Ahern, and safety Aidan Ryan are also out. They accounted for two of Virginia’s interceptions. Without them, there’s more room for Drake Maye to pick apart the Cavs’ defense.

Virginia currently sports college football’s #70-ranked defense, giving up 379.8 ypg. They have surrendered 25 touchdowns in six games. With Tez Walker taking the top off the secondary, Nate McCollum patrolling the slot, the triumvirate of tight ends making stretch plays up the seam against overmatched linebackers, and Omarion Hampton finally matching patience and vision with his phenomenal physical prowess — things could get ugly on the CW.

Strange to think about such ugliness on a network that famously had shows like One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Jane the Virgin, and The Vampire Diaries, that only featured attractive people.