The 9-2 North Carolina Tar Heels will host their last regular season game against 7-4 NC State on Friday as the season winds down.
A game that has been circled on calendars for quite some time is finally here, as the two rivals finally meet. Both teams have shared moments of success, being in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and moments of disappointment as being on the losing end of games they heavily favored in.
North Carolina is coming off their worse loss of the season to a 5-6 Georgia Tech team, losing 21-17 in a game they were favored to win by 21 points. NC State’s injury bug has been a clear indicator on their downward path, going 2-3 since their starting quarterback Devin Leary was listed OUT for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn pectoral muscle.
Despite the two paths, both programs’ hatred for one another stayed as they traded shots throughout the season. UNC has a shot at sweeping North Carolina’s top division one programs, already having wins over Appalachian State, Duke and Wake.
The last time these two teams met, the Wolf Pack got the better of UNC, beating them 34-30. The trash talk and looking to even the score from last season should motivate North Carolina to get it done.
Key to victory for UNC
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 19: Drake Maye #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels rolls out under pressure from Zeek Biggers #88 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half of their game at Kenan Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2022 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Win the battle of strengths…
UNC’s most potent weapon is its offense, led by one of the nation’s best quarterbacks Drake Maye. The offense has had a strong showing in most of their games, but last week sang a different tune when they mustered up a season-low 17 points.
NC State’s defense is much more of a challenge than Georgia Tech’s. They allow a 16th-best 18.7 points per game, led by linebacker Drake Thomas. Thomas is the focal point of State’s defense, with 80 tackles and 5.5 sacks on the season.
If UNC can put up points, then they win. However, if they struggle as they did against Georgia Tech, then the Wolf Pack can howl out of Kenan Stadium with a victory.
Something to watch
Nov 19, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Josh Downs (11) drops a pass as Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back LaMiles Brooks (20) defends on fourth down late in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
How does UNC respond?
North Carolina was riding a high, clinched a ticket to the ACC Championship game, and was climbing up the college football playoff ladder. Then Georgia Tech came and shocked the college football world with a 21-17 victory, snapping UNC’s six-game win streak.
Despite kissing the playoffs goodbye, North Carolina still has a shot at ending the regular season on a good note, and no one better to do that against other than NC State. UNC responded well after their loss against Notre Dame, blowing out Virginia Tech 41-10 the game after.
Can North Carolina deliver a similar outcome to NC State?
What you need to know
WHAT? NC State (7-4) at North Carolina Tar Heels (9-2)
WHEN? Friday, Nov. 25th, 3:30 p.m. ET
WHERE? Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
TV? ESPN (Watch and stream the game live on ESPN+)
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
WEATHER? Precipitation: 13%, 60 degrees, Wind: 5mph
LINE? UNC – 6.5
LAST MEETING? 2021, NC State 34-30
ALL-TIME SERIES? UNC leads 68-37-6
PREDICTION? UNC 35, NC State 31