Although North Carolina's defense is likely to regain its composure and play much better than it did in last week's 30-27 loss to Florida State, the timing is still perfectly rotten for the Tar Heels.
Virginia Tech has had almost two weeks to seethe over the costly loss at Georgia Tech that's likely to keep the Hokies out of the ACC title game and a big bowl appearance.
Offensively, the Heels will need their best ground game and short passing attack of the season in order to have any hope of an upset. Thus far, they haven't displayed much ability to succeed in either of those categories.
Rush to judgment
North Carolina has the second-best rushing defense in the league (102.6 yards per game) and allowed only 48 yards to Florida State, most of which came on scrambles by quarterback Christian Ponder. Virginia Tech, led by Ryan Williams and Garner's Josh Oglesby, is second in rushing offense (203.7 ypg). Something has to give.
The Tar Heels are coming off a Thursday night game, and the Hokies are heading into one next week at East Carolina. Schedule-wise, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer says that's a draw. He would know: The Hokies are 9-2 at home on Thursday nights and 14-4 overall.
"North Carolina played back-to-back Thursday night games, and we're getting ready to," Beamer said. "You have a little rest on the front end; you have a little rest on the back end. I like it that way myself."
Player to watch
Virginia Tech, Jr., QB, 6-1, 216 lbs.
No one has ever doubted Taylor's ability to make plays with his feet, but he has dramatically improved his numbers through the air. At his current rate, he could reach 2,000 passing yards and double his total from last season. He already has thrown more touchdowns (nine, compared to two) and is on pace to throw fewer interceptions.
By the numbers
16.4 scoring def.19.1
128.9 avg. rush yds.203.7
102.6 opp. avg. rush yds.150.3
160.6 avg. pass yds.176.3
163.7 opp. avg. pass yds.167.1