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North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview and Prediction

Marquise Williams

Marquise Williams

Being part of the opening Thursday night game of the FBS season gives you two extra days to think about the result. For North Carolina, that was not a good thing.

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The Tar Heels not only lost that game to South Carolina 17-13, they also failed to punch in a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter after a first-and-goal at the Gamecocks' 9-yard line. Questions about head coach Larry Fedora’s decision-making in that sequence ensued and Tar Heel fans were left wondering what could have been.

It is time to move on and the Heels must put things together before conference play begins. UNC comes back to Chapel Hill for a date with nearby North Carolina A&T. The Aggies started their season in a big way, smashing Division II Shaw University 61-7.

North Carolina A&T at North Carolina

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: N/A

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Three Things To Watch

1. Emotion

After such a deflating loss, it will be interesting to see how motivated the Tar Heels are in week two. It would actually be surprising if, after stewing on that loss for nine days, UNC doesn’t come out of the tunnel with their hair on fire. The question is, will the same desire be there five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes into the game? Playing an FCS team certainly won’t help.

2. How Elijah Hood is Used

After the game, one of the main criticisms of Fedora was his use of the sophomore running back. With 138 yards on just 13 carries, many (including David Pollack, the ESPN analyst covering the game) were wondering why Hood didn’t get more touches. During the entire set of downs following the first and goal at the nine, Hood was on the bench, prompting an entirely new set of questions. Will Fedora lean on Hood more? Or will he be more focused on…

3. Getting Quarterback Marquise Williams Back on Track

19 of 32 for 232 yards and a touchdown are not bad. Three picks are not good. Three picks inside the opposing 25-yard line, with two in the end zone, are downright awful. Of all the players on the North Carolina team, Williams is the main one that has to get his mojo back. He plays the most important position and is a much better player than he showed last Thursday.

Final Analysis

North Carolina A&T was a 9-3 team last year and should be a MEAC contender. They have Tarik Cohen, one of the best running backs on the FCS level. But if they see a North Carolina team that is angry and eager to prove that last week was a mistake, it will be a long day for the Aggies. If they see a Tar Heels team that is down in the dumps and still feeling sorry after failing to complete the deal against South Carolina, A&T might be able to hang around for a while. I’m guessing a mad UNC emerges at Kenan Stadium and wins easily.

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Prediction:  North Carolina 41, North Carolina A&T 13

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.