It's been five years since the NC State Wolfpack (5-2) lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels (5-3), and they'll be looking to make it six-in-a-row when the two teams meet in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon.
NC State is coming off of back-to-back wins over Florida State and Maryland by a combined three points, while North Carolina lost 33-30 to Duke last week, a loss that made the Blue Devils a bowl-eligible team for the first time since 1994.
With the schools separated by a mere 20 miles, emotions will be running high when the two rivals bang helmets. Here's everything you need to know heading into the game.
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
When: Saturday, October 27 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Watch: ACC Network
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line: North Carolina (-7) via Vegas Insider
Both schools need a win as they try and keep pace in their respective divisions.
NC State (2-1) trails both Florida State and Clemson in the Atlantic division, but they've got a win over Florida State and play Clemson later in the season, so they control their own fate to a certain degree.
North Carolina (3-2) trails both Duke and Miami (FL) in the Coastal division, but with a postseason ban and no chance of competing for the ACC Championship, they are simply playing for pride (h/t ESPN).
Who Might Not Play for NC State (via USAToday.com)
G Andrew Wallace (Foot), Questionable for Saturday
HB James Washington (Ankle), Questionable for Saturday
G Zach Allen (Leg), Out for season
DT Jacob Kahut (Knee), Out for season
LB Michael Peek (Leg), Out for season
Who Might Not Play for North Carolina (according to USAToday.com)
P Miller Snyder (Undisclosed), Questionable for Saturday
FB Connor Gonet (Undisclosed), Questionable for Saturday
T T.J. Leifheit (Ankle), Questionable for Saturday
LB Darius Lipford (Knee), Questionable for Saturday
RB Travis Riley (Leg), Out for season
LB Keeon Virgile (Undisclosed), Out indefinitely
WR T.J. Thorpe (Foot), Out indefinitely
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Only NC State has a shot at postseason play and while it hasn't cracked the Top 25 yet, it continues to receive votes in both the AP and USA Today polls.
The Wolfpack isn't going to play in a BCS bowl game, but a win over the Tar Heels would not only put them closer to the Top 25, but improve their bowl situation at the end of the season.
Currently, ESPN has NC State playing either Louisville or Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
What They're Saying
On the aptly named "Tom O'Brien Show," NC State head coach Tom O'Brien was effusive in his praise of UNC RB Giovani Bernard:
"He's the best running back we'll face this year. He has great speed. He can run away from you, he can run you over, he can make you miss."
In his weekly press conference, the Charlotte Observer's Andrew Carter reports that North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora is well aware of the game's significance, both for the program and fans:
The importance of the State game, Larry says, "has been pointed out to me since the first handshake since I took the job."— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) October 22, 2012
NC State Player to Watch: Mike Glennon, QB
Wolfpack QB Mike Glennon is completing 58 percent of his passes, down from the 62 percent mark he posted in his breakout 2011 campaign.
His 284 yards passing per game leads the ACC and he's tied with Florida State's E.J. Manuel for second in touchdown passes with 14.
In their five wins on the season, North Carolina has held the opposing quarterback under 200 yards passing. For NC State to have a shot at beating UNC, Glennon needs to be well above that 200-yard mark, something which shouldn't be a problem given the Wolfpack's inability to run the ball consistently.
North Carolina Player to Watch: Giovani Bernard, RB
Giovani Bernard is the big-time, explosive running back that the Wolfpack wish they had in their backfield behind Glennon.
The sophomore leads the ACC with 795 yards rushing on 103 carries, and his eight rushing touchdowns on the season put him second in the conference. Bernard is a factor in the passing game as well, with 24 receptions for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
He's a versatile weapon, and one that NC State will be hard pressed to contain on Saturday, especially with their defense allowing nearly 130 yards rushing per game.
Larry Fedora is trying to keep things light in the Tar Heels' locker room before this week's game, per Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer:
Renner said it was like the coaches "went to Party City" and bought a whole bunch of N.C. State gear to decorate locker room on Sunday.— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) October 22, 2012
With no chance of playing past the end of the regular season, this is North Carolina's bowl game.
Between playing at home, Bernard's explosiveness and the fact that their defense is just a bit better than NC State's, I like the Tar Heels to buck the trend and take down the Wolfpack on Saturday.
North Carolina 31, NC State 24
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