Preview: Clemson at North Carolina
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Clemson travels to North Carolina with both teams facing a must-win situation to keep their ACC divisional title hopes alive. These are the teams the computer forecasted to stage a rematch in the conference championship game, but each has already lost its conference opener.
The Tar Heels, of course, were bitten by an unexpected spate of player suspensions while the NCAA investigated Tutorgate and Agentgate. Only four of the fifteen players that were originally held out have been cleared to return.
Still, North Carolina (2-2) has managed to regroup for victories in its last two games over Rutgers and East Carolina after opening with a pair of 6-point defeats at the hands of LSU and Georgia Tech.
Clemson is also 2-2 and still looking for its first meaningful FBS win. The Tigers opened the season with victories over North Texas and FCS member Presbyterian, but have dropped their last two to more-worthy respected opponents, Auburn and Miami (Fla.).
These teams have met 53 times with Clemson holding a 33-19-1 advantage overall, and a 5-1 advantage in the last six meetings. The Tigers enter this year's contest looking for their fourth straight win over the Tar Heels. However, this is their first meeting since 2006 and the first at Keenan Stadium since 2002.
In last week's 42-17 win over East Carolina, the Tar Heels rushed for a season-high 263 yards and had two
tailbacks run for more than 100 yards in the same game for the first time since 2004. Shaun Draughn rushed for 137 yards and a career-high three TD's, while Johnny White had 16 carries for 140 yards, an average of 8.8 per
Safety Da’Norris Searcy saw his first action of the season and returned an interception 46 yards for a TD. UNC trailed 17-14 early in the third quarter, but scored on four of their final five possessions to pull away from their rivals from Greenville, North Carolina.
For Clemson, RB Andre Ellington scored all three of his school's touchdowns in last week's home loss to the Hurricanes. Ellington has 380 yards rushing this season compared to C.J. Spiller’s total of 288 through the same number of games last year.
The teams are fairly evenly matched statistically. Clemson ranks just 10th in the ACC on defense while North Carolina brings the conference's 7th-ranked offense, and the Tigers 5th-ranked offense will face the Tar Heels' 6th-ranked defense.
Kick-off is at 3:30 eastern and will be broadcast regionally on ABC.