UNC v NC State: Tobacco Road Football Finale

(14) UNC Tar Heels (10-1, 7-0 ACC) at NC State Wolfpack (7-4, 3-4 ACC)

Saturday, November 28, 3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN2

Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC

Line: UNC – 5.5, Over/Under: 65.5

In the UNC v NC State games this weekend, the Tar Heels and Wolfpack will finish their regular seasons in Raleigh this weekend. UNC has come out of nowhere in the Coastal Division to earn a spot in the league’s title game, while NC State has overcome injuries and dismissals to earn a bowl bid once again.

North Carolina looks to complete its comeback from an opening loss to South Carolina, and win its eleventh game in a row.

UNC is also looking for more respect in the national polls, and a chance to move into the very outside periphery of the College Football Playoff.

Before the Heels can do that against Clemson in the ACC championship, they must take care of Rivalry Week in the state capital.

UNC will win… if they avoid a look-ahead. The Heels have clinched a berth in the ACC Championship Game and will likely get the number one ranked team in the country come December 5. All Clemson has to do is beat one of the worst South Carolina teams in recent memory this week to finish the regular season perfect.

UNC can’t get visions of New Year’s Six Bowls in their heads, like a Peach Bowl shootout with Navy or Houston.

The Heels can’t have a letdown after an emotional win over the Virginia Tech Hokies in Frank Beamer’s last home game in Blacksburg. UNC gutted out a tough game, overcame turnovers, and won the Coastal Division against a hungry team.

Speaking of those Hokies, if they win their last game against Virginia, Beamer will get one more game to coach in a bowl. NC State and VA Tech could be on the same tier as each other in the bowl selection. A game versus an SEC opponent in the Belk Bowl could be up in the air for the Hokies or Wolfpack. VA Tech can get to 6 – 6 while the Pack can get to 8 – 4 and be very appealing to ACC bowls.

Throw in a potential seven-win Duke, and the bowl selections following the New Year’s Six tier will be competitive for the ACC.

NC State will win… a hard fought, low scoring, close game.

The Wolfpack must limit the big plays of UNC quarterback Marquise Williams, running back Elijah Hood, and wide receiver Ryan Switzer. If they can frustrate UNC and stay within a touchdown for three quarters, and this game is competitive for 60 minutes, then it’s a doable task.

The Wolfpack can also ruin a heck of a stretch this UNC team has put together after the opening debacle against South Carolina. UNC is on a ten game win streak, and up to number fourteen in the country in the College Football Playoff Poll.

Those ten wins include a good win on the road at Pittsburgh. Pitt can go 9 – 3 on the season if they win their final game versus Miami (FL). A road win at NC State would likely bump UNC up another notch if a few teams go down in front of them, i.e.  Oklahoma State, Stanford, or Florida.

Both UNC and State have gotten what they sought at the mid-point of this season. UNC was after a division title once they got rolling after a rough patch.

NC State was after bowl eligibility when they realized their conference games were going to present more of a problem than their coma-inducing non-conference slate.


NC State has been able to score on some good defenses this year. Clemson and Boston College both boast some of the best defenses in the country, yet State put up points on them.

I said above I think NC State will win a hard fought, low scoring, close game. A game that stays down in the teens for both teams is one that NC State can win. If they can force turnovers from UNC and Marquise Williams, then they can try and eat some clock, and keep the ball out of UNC’s hands.

UNC is going to try and jump on NC State and put this one out of reach early. State has struggled in their losses to score early, and has been sluggish in the first half. I think emotions run high in this one, and whoever weathers those will be in the driver’s seat.

All told, I think UNC handles this one, doesn’t look ahead, and take revnege for the smackdown State gave them last year (35 – 7).

UNC holds off the Wolfpack 34 – 24.


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