#10 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #1 Clemson Tigers
Saturday – December 5 – 7:00 pm CT
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina
The consensus #1 ranked team in college football all year, the Clemson Tigers (12-0), will have one more hurdle to clear before filling one of the four slots in the college football playoffs. That hurdle looking to impede that goal is #10 North Carolina Tar Heels (11-1).
Since dropping their opening game to the Gamecocks of South Carolina, the Tar Heels have been one of college football’s most impressive teams winning 11 straight. Quite the accomplishment until they look across the field to see their opponent is riding a 15 game winning streak dating back to last season.
The Tar Heels will be looking to avenge last season’s 50-35 loss in Chapel Hill. Accomplishing that task will fall square on the shoulders of dual-threat quarterback Marquise Williams. The first year starter has turned in an impressive season up to this point, passing for 2,605 yards with 18 touchdowns and churning out 786 yards on the ground. The up-tempo offense Williams commands has the weaponry to give a stingy Clemson defense problems come Saturday. A receiving trio of Ryan Switzer, Quinshad Davis and Mack Hollins gives Williams big and fast targets to go up against a big, fast secondary of Clemson that features 6’4″ Jayron Kearse and 6’3″ TJ Greene. Cornerback MacKenzie Alexander is one of the best in the college game right now.
Clemson’s defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, knows a thing or two about defending up-tempo offenses such as the Tar Heels. As co-defensive coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners for many years, he faced similar offenses that looked to push the pace in his own in practice along with likes of conference foes Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor. “They have a lot of explosive playmakers” said Venables.
The defense of the Tar Heels won’t find it a walk in the park Saturday either. Clemson’s sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson is looking like a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy next season. Multi-talented, the 6’2″ Watson has amassed 3,989 yards of offense and has accounted for 27 touchdowns. Running back Wayne Gallman has been a steadying force for the Tigers all season racking up 1,145 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns. Like the Tar Heels, the Tigers feature a three-headed monster in their passing attack. Artavis Scott, Deon Cain and Charone Peake all have over 500 yards receiving. Scott is the “go-to” guy for Watson however, entering the game with 77 catches for 709 yards and four touchdowns.
A packed house is expected for the 7:00 PM kickoff. Clemson is a 6-point favorite, making the odds of North Carolina escaping with a victory a tough task on Saturday. “This is the best team we’ve faced” said Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora. That would be an astute observation by Fedora since his team is up against the best in college football as today.
Prediction: Clemson 37 – North Carolina 24