North Carolina had last Saturday off. In the afternoon they probably turned on the TV to get a look at its next opponent, Wake Forest. What the Tar Heels player and coaches saw was pure ugliness.
The Demon Deacons had 142 total yards with just 33 rushing yards. They had five first downs. They were outgained by 138 yards. Yet thanks to poor Boston College kicking, four BC turnovers, and the Eagles messing up the end of game situation, amazingly Wake Forest emerged with a 3-0 victory.
The Deacons are 3-3 on the season and with six tough games remaining on the schedule, they need every win they can get to reach bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels have different aspirations. After losing their first game of the year to South Carolina, UNC has rattled off four wins in a row. They are 1-0 in the ACC and have their sights set on claiming the wide-open Coastal Division.
Wake Forest at North Carolina
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN3/RSN
Spread: North Carolina -17.5
Three Things to Watch
1. The UNC Running Game
Boston College cannot throw the ball at all so Wake Forest’s first priority was to stop the run. But BC still had 196 yards rushing. Wake Forest has a good overall defense but they defend the pass much better than the run. Elijah Hood is averaging 89 yards a game this season and quarterback Marquise Williams is coming off a 148-yard rushing effort against Georgia Tech. A solid ground attack will open things up for Williams throwing the ball, something he does much better than anyone on the BC roster.
2. Wake Forest Getting Solid Play at Quarterback
John Wolford’s ankle injury suffered against Army gave Kendal Hinton a chance against Indiana and Florida State. The freshman performed admirably, but Wolford was back in there against Boston College going 11-of-25 for 109 yards. It is possible that both quarterbacks play against the Tar Heels and each will give UNC a different look. No matter who takes the bulk of the snaps, Wake will need the quarterback to play well if they have any shot of beating North Carolina.
3. North Carolina Getting Back to Work
The open date came at a pretty good time for the Heels. North Carolina had to prepare for Georgia Tech and an extra week to de-optionize itself is not a bad thing. Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik has the Tar Heels at No. 45 in total defense. That may not sound all that special but since UNC ranked No. 117 in that department a year ago, that rating is something to be proud of. And it should go up this week since Chizik has a week to prepare for a less than dynamic Wake Forest offense.
Congratulations to Wake Forest for getting by at Boston College. It is not easy to win on the road in the ACC and they did it against a very tough defensive team. That being said, this week will be a greater challenge. The Deacons played Florida State tough and they have a pretty formidable defense of their own. But North Carolina is averaging 38.6 points per game and their defense has improved mightily under Chizik. The final score will be respectable, but this will be a very comfortable North Carolina win.
Prediction: North Carolina 31, Wake Forest 17
— 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.