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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Belk Kickoff Classic – Watch for a Carolina Victory

Just days away from what should be an exciting game in Charlotte between North Carolina and South Carolina, it’s time to preview the two teams and pick a winner.

In one of the more intriguing matchups coming Thursday night, a high powered Tar Heel offense and questionable defense meet a questionable offense and below average defense in the Gamecocks. So we’ll divide the two teams up by these two lines (and these two alone) and predict a winner.

Battle Fronts (stats from 2014 via ncaa.com)

North Carolina offense – 35th in the nation with 55 touchdowns and 429.8 yards per game.
Returns one of the most underrated dual-threat QBs in the nation in Marquise Williams.

South Carolina defense – 92nd in the nation allowing 432.7 yards per game.
Returns 8 starters

North Carolina defense – ranked 117th in the nation allowing 497.8 yards per game
New scheme under first year DC Gene Chizik

South Carolina offense – ranked 33rd in the nation with 51 touchdowns and 443.4 yards per game
Returns 5 starters and will begin with a new QB.

Expect South Carolina to improve on their defensive numbers from last year having returned 8 starters from the defensive line. Expect North Carolina to improve from their offensive numbers from last year having returned essentially an entire offensive line headlined by dual-threat QB Marquise Williams. Expect South Carolina offense to be about average in this game and/or slightly off their averages from last year given the new QB and questionable North Carolina defense. Expect North Carolina to improve slightly from their defensive numbers (or the defense that wasn’t) from a season ago.

Having said that, what happens with this game? North Carolina SHOULD win in a thriller over a new QB even though it will be a homecoming of sorts for the former Wakefield star Conner Mitch. The biggest question mark surrounding the Tar Heels is that defense. You’ve all seen the numbers and graphics from what new DC Chizik has been able to do in his first year at every team he has gone to, and if you have, you know some of us have been saying that ANY defense that isn’t last years’ will put us in position to win some games. This is one of them.

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