North Carolina college football: What to watch for

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Here’s a look at the best of in-state DI football for Saturday, Nov. 2, including game of the week, player to watch, TV info, stat leaders and more.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Virginia (5-3, 3-2) at North Carolina (4-4, 3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.

TV: ACC Network

KEYS FOR VIRGINIA

Avoid turnovers: The Cavaliers committed two costly turnovers in last week’s loss against Louisville — an interception that ended a potential scoring drive at the Cardinals’ 20-yard line and a fumble deep in their own territory. That’s not just been a one-game occurrence for Virginia, which ranks last among ACC teams in turnover margin (-0.75) and has the second-highest number of total turnovers (16).

Find their road warrior: Playing away from home has been a struggle for Virginia of late. The Cavaliers have lost three of their last four games, and all three of those setbacks have been at Notre Dame, at Miami and at Louisville. Once a casual environment for football, UNC’s Kenan Stadium has come alive this year with the return of Mack Brown as head coach and will present another road obstacle for Virginia to overcome.

KEYS FOR UNC

Establish the run: Freshman quarterback Sam Howell has been the focal point of UNC’s offense this season, but the Tar Heels have been most dangerous when the running back tandem of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are piling up yards. The duo has been especially effective in the second half when the games have been on the line. But getting them going early could be a big advantage against Virginia.

Keep a spy on Perkins: Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins has struggled at times this season, especially passing where he’s been intercepted eight times and ranks 10th in ACC passing efficiency (122.5). But Perkins is still a dangerous runner, and UNC has had trouble containing opposing quarterbacks when they keep the football. So having a defender assigned to shadow Perkins should be part of co-defensive coordinator Jay Bateman’s game plan.

PREDICTION

North Carolina 26, Virginia 21. The Tar Heels have momentum after a big win against Duke and are playing at Kenan Stadium, which has become a true home-field advantage this season. Mack Brown’s comeback continues to exceed expectaions as UNC takes over the top spot in the unpredictable ACC Coastal Division.

BEST OF THE REST

This weekend’s other top in-state games

N.C. State (4-3, 1-2) vs. No. 23 Wake Forest (6-1, 2-1)

When: Noon, Saturday

Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.

TV: ESPN

Notes: The 113th meeting between the in-state rivals will see Wake Forest try to extend a two-game winning streak against the Wolfpack and hold onto second place in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Deacons have won nine of the last 11 in the series on their home field.

No. 17 Cincinnati (6-1, 3-0) vs. East Carolina (3-5, 0-4)

When: 7 p.m., Saturday

Where: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville

TV: CBS Sports Network

Notes: American Athletic Conference East Division leader Cincinnati comes to Dowdy-Ficklen riding a five-game winning streak, while the Pirates try to snap a three-game losing streak. Included the Bearcats’ streak is a 27-24 win against UCF, which routed ECU 45-20 last Saturday.

Middle Tennessee State (3-5, 2-2) vs. Charlotte (3-5, 1-3)

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte

TV: ESPN3

Notes: The 49ers are coming off their first league win of the season, a 39-38 thriller over North Texas. Charlotte running back Benny LeMay, who leads Conference USA in rushing, gained 155 yards and scored three touchdowns against North Texas.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Chris Reynolds, Charlotte: The sophomore quarterback set a school record for total offense, threw for the most yards against an FBS opponent, had three touchdowns passes of 30 or more yards, ran for a 29-yard score and directed a fourth-quarter comeback as the 49ers stunned North Texas last week, 39-38.

ROUNDING IT OUT

This weekend’s other big games

Saturday/Time Matchup TV

• Noon Boston College (4-4, 2-3) at Syracuse (3-5, 0-4) ACC Network

• 2:30 p.m. Virginia Tech (5-2) at No. 16 Notre Dame (5-2) NBC

• 3:30 p.m. Miami (4-4, 2-3) at Florida State (4-4, 3-3) ABC

• 4 p.m. Wofford (5-2) at No. 4 Clemson (8-0) ACC Network

• 4 p.m. Pittsburgh (5-3, 2-2) at Georgia Tech (2-5, 1-3) RSN

• 7:30 p.m. No. 15 SMU (8-0, 4-0) at Memphis (7-1, 3-1) ABC

BY THE NUMBERS

In-state schools statistical leaders through Oct. 13

Passing yards

Player — Yds.

Sam Howell, UNC — 2,119

Jamie Newman, WF — 1,772

Holton Ahlers, ECU — 1,672

Quentin Harris, DUKE — 1,500

Chris Reynolds, CHA — 1,488

Passing touchdowns

Player — TDs

Sam Howell, UNC — 22

Jamie Newman, WF — 17

Chris Reynolds, CHA — 15

Quentin Harris, DUKE — 13

Zac Thomas ASU — 11

Rushing yards

Player — Yds

Benny LeMay, CHA — 822

Darrynton Evans, ASU — 722

Javonte Williams, UNC —640

Michael Carter UNC — 577

Deon Jackson, DUKE — 487

Receiving yards

Player — Yds

Sage Surratt, WF — 881

Dazz Newsome, UNC — 582

Scotty Washington, WF — 523

Victor Tucker, CHA — 499

Dyami Brown, UNC — 477

Tackles

Player — Tkls

Chazz Surratt, UNC — 75

Koby Quansah DUKE — 72

Justin Strnad, WF — 69

Marquavis Gibbs, CHA — 64

Myles Dorn, UNC — 60

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