North Carolina vs. Virginia: Why ACC Clash Will Come Down to the Wire

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North Carolina vs. Virginia: Why ACC Clash Will Come Down to the Wire

North Carolina is 6-4 and three of those four losses were by one possession, while Virginia is 4-6, with five of its losses coming at the hands of unranked opponents. Looking at the records of those two teams that play tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, you would think it would result in a one-sided blowout.

However, you can expect Virginia to keep things close and will likely get a bang for your buck on a lonely Thursday night in the college football world.

Although the Tar Heels head into the matchup with six victories, a bowl is out of the question due to receiving NCAA sanctions that included a one-year bowl ban. Virginia has won two games in a row and will look to use a victory tonight to inch one step closer towards reaching a bowl for the second year in a row.

According to AP sportswriter Hank Kurz Jr., via WralSportsFan.com, Virginia will feed off of tonight's national attention and the home crowd to play better than it has in weeks past.

Everyone who loves college football is watching this game, and it's a statement game. Senior linebacker LaRoy Reynolds said this week. ... The atmosphere is going to be great, The feeling of playing the last home game, being with the team again and working to get this bowl bid — I think the energy's going to be there, the passion's going to be there and the effort is definitely going to be there.

Three of the Cavaliers' four victories have come at home, while three of the Tar Heels four losses have come on the road. Virginia needs to win the last two games of the season to become eligible for only the third time since 2005.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Michael Rocco has played well in the last two games and Virginia has won. If he can keep up the solid performances, his team should be in good shape again tonight.

Virginia is also coming off of an impressive victory last week where the team trailed for most of the game against Miami. Cavaliers quarterback Michael Rocco threw a 10-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds to give his team a victory. That was the junior quarterback’s best performance of the year, throwing for 300 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

Head coach Mike London has been very impressed with his performance as of late, according to Andrea Adelson of ESPN.

Michael has done an outstanding job the last couple games. London said after the victory over the Hurricanes. We talk about how selfless he is. He’s a team player. He wants to win. He has a great relationship with Phil (Sims). No one cares about who gets the credit; we just want to win ball games. He has a great understanding of the offense. Part of this time that we traveled down this season, you have to ask him, but it may have been a benefit to him as far as watching but also competing.

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Much like the Miami Hurricanes, North Carolina has a shaky pass defense as well, allowing 7.2 yards per pass attempt and recently allowed over 400 yards in the air to North Carolina State. As long as Rocco can continue to play well and limit the turnovers, Virginia will have a shot to win this game and pull off the upset.

Defensively, Virginia should be in good shape, as the Cavaliers are currently third in the ACC in total defense and are allowing only 205 passing yards a game. North Carolina is potent on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 40 points a contest, but Virginia should do a solid job of keeping the Tar Heels in check as long as the Virginia offense can move the chains.

The Tar Heels certainly won't head into this matchup ready to hand Virginia a victory, and with the talent on the roster, they could easily win their seventh game of the year. However, Virginia has the momentum on its side and will have the home crowd behind it in this contest.

With the Cavaliers playing better as of late, the overall team building confidence and the importance of the game, this matchup will likely come down to the wire and provide entertainment for those hardcore college football fans.


Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.

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