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by Sharon Thorsland

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 North Carolina at Miami

It’s time for another edition of the South’s oldest rivalry, this one taking place in Charlottesville. Sure, it might not carry quite the same weight as Auburn-Alabama or Michigan-Ohio State. But the annual meeting between North Carolina and Virginia has produced plenty of drama over the years – 131 years to be exact. This time around doesn’t look to be terribly exciting, though. The Tar Heels are ranked 17th in the nation and are 7-1 after a comeback win over Pitt last week, but the Cavaliers have struggled this season. They’re lost four of their last five games after last week’s quadruple (!!) overtime loss to Miami, and are now 3-5 on the year. Kick-off is set for noon Saturday at Scott Stadium.

Virginia has a new head coach this season and things aren’t exactly going as planned. The Cavalier offense is anemic, managing just 14.4 points per game – that’s 8th worst in the nation. Senior quarterback Brennan Armstrong has regressed this season, he’s only thrown six touchdowns in eight games to go with nine interceptions. Dontayvion Wicks is his top receiver along with running back Keytaon Thompson, they’ve combined for 1,009 yards and two scores. With five new offensive linemen, the Cavalier ground game isn’t faring much better, averaging 135 yards per game led by Perris Jones. Of course, UNC’s defense continues to be awful, the Heels allow over 462 yards per game, that’s 10th worst in FBS.

Virginia does have a pretty darn good defense. The Wahoos are ranked 32nd in the country allowing 340 yards and 21.5 points per game. They’ve forced 13 turnovers through eight games, two of them interceptions by cornerback Anthony Johnson. Chico Bennett Jr. leads a ferocious pass rush, he has seven of the team’s 26 sacks. The Cavalier’s pass defense is particularly stingy, ranking third in the ACC allowing just 193 yards per game, while the run defense has been mediocre. Virginia will face UNC’s potent offense that averages over 500 yards and nearly 42 points per game. Star quarterback Drake Maye has thrown 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions, but the Heels running game no doubt needs to step things up in this game.