North Carolina

Saturday morning blitz: Can the Wolfpack win at Death Valley?

UNC's Fedora on loss to Virgina Tech and facing Miami

University of North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora talks about the Heels mistakes against Virginia Tech and facing another big test against Miami.
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University of North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora talks about the Heels mistakes against Virginia Tech and facing another big test against Miami.

3 to watch

1. N.C. State at No. 3 Clemson, noon (WTVD): The Wolfpack (4-1) seeks its first win at Clemson’s Death Valley since Philip Rivers’ junior season in 2002. Recently, few teams have had success at Clemson (6-0), which has won 19 straight at home.

2. UNC at No. 16 Miami, 3:30 p.m. (WTVD): UNC (4-2) flat out embarrassed Miami (4-1), 59-21 last year in Chapel Hill. And the game wasn’t even that close. Given Virginia Tech’s schedule, this is an elimination game in the Coastal Division race.

3. Wake Forest at No. 14 Florida State, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN): Motivation might be a problem for the Seminoles (4-2), who can’t win their division, but Wake (5-1) should be eager to prove its legitimacy. The Deacs put up a fight last year, 24-16, in Winston-Salem.

Observations

▪  UNC should be able to breathe fire at Miami. After a throw-away performance in a 34-3 home loss to Virginia Tech, the Tar Heels should be sufficiently motivated. Improved weather conditions should help their passing game, too. Miami’s defensive front gave FSU fits last week, a 20-19 FSU win, and cornerback Corn Elder was spectacular in defeat.

▪ Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans picked the wrong year to be really good. The junior college transfer has a 15-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has thrown for 1,045 yards. Those are All-ACC numbers in just about any year that doesn’t include Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson. Evans’ numbers should get another boost on Saturday against a miserable Syracuse defense.

▪ Pittsburgh (4-2, 1-1) could be a spoiler in the Coastal Division race. The Panthers get Virginia Tech at home on a Thursday night and a little extra time before going to Miami on Nov. 5. They need to take care of Virginia (2-3, 1-0) first. The Cavaliers, coming off an open date and a pair of wins, are at the point in their season where they believe. That could easily be knocked out of them with Pitt, UNC and Louisville as the next three games on their schedule.

Number to know

137-20

Since a 45-24 loss to Tennessee on Sept. 10, Virginia Tech has outscored its past three opponents (Boston College, East Carolina, North Carolina) by 117 points.

Top 25

Friday

No. 7 Louisville vs. Duke, late

Saturday

No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Tennessee, 3:30 p.m.

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 8 Wisconsin, 8 p.m.

No. 3 Clemson vs. N.C. State, noon

No. 10 Nebraska at Indiana, 3:30 p.m.

No. 11 Baylor vs. Kansas, 3:30 p.m.

No. 12 Mississippi at No. 22 Arkansas, 7 p.m.

No. 13 Houston vs. Tulsa, 7 p.m.

No. 14 Florida State vs. Wake Forest, 3:30 p.m.

No. 15 Boise State vs. Colorado State, 10:15 p.m.

No. 16 Miami vs. North Carolina, 3:30 p.m.

No. 17 Virginia Tech at Syracuse, 3:45 p.m.

No. 18 Florida vs. Missouri, 4 p.m.

No. 19 Oklahoma vs. Kansas State, noon

No. 20 West Virginia at Texas Tech, noon

No. 21 Utah at Oregon State, 4 p.m.

No. 24 Western Michigan at Akron, 3:30 p.m.

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