Virginia Tech Hokies (7-2, 5-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (6-3, 3-2)
North Carolina: The Tar Heels are coming off a dramatic win on the road against Florida State, 37-35 ... they lost their most effective running back this season, Johnny White, to a broken collarbone in the game ... White is out for the season ... the UNC ground game struggled against FSU, but T.J. Yates bounced back after two poor performances by setting the UNC single-game passing record with 439 yards ... he was 24-for-35 with three touchdowns and no interceptions ... on defense, the Tar Heels have allowed 4.5 ypc (7th) and 6.6 ypa (7th) in ACC play.
Trends: The Hokies have won seven consecutive games since losing their first two games of the season ... UNC has won six of its last seven after losing its first two games ... since joining the ACC, the Hokies are 22-2 in November and December regular season games with both losses coming to Miami ... Virginia Tech has won five consecutive true road games ... Virginia Tech is 21-5 in ACC conference road games.
History Lesson: Virginia Tech is 16-10-6 all-time against UNC, 5-2 against it under Frank Beamer, 5-1 since joining the ACC and 4-2-2 all-time in Chapel Hill ... Tech is 3-0-1 in its last four trips to Chapel Hill and last lost there in 1938 ... the Tar Heels won last year in Blacksburg, 20-17 on a field goal as time expired, to give them their first ACC win over the Hokies ... Tech won the last meeting in Chapel Hill, also by a score of 20-17, when Tech scored the game's final 17 points.
What to Expect
- Expect a balanced UNC offense. The Tar Heels run slightly more than they throw and I think this will continue even with White out. Shaun Draughn will get most of the significant carries, but little-used Hunter Furr came in against FSU and had 27 yards on three carries.
- Expect UNC to miss White in the passing game, where he was a good target for Yates since the Heels lost Zack Pianalto. White is currently the Heels' fourth-leading receiver in terms of yardage with 288.
- Expect the Hokies to try run early and often. FSU struggled to establish the run, but teams that have done that have been able to grind on UNC and wear down its injury- and suspension-depleted defense going into the fourth quarter.
- Expect Tech to need big games from Chris Drager and Steven Friday. The Heels have allowed 13 sacks in five conference games and I think the Hokies will need to be able to pressure Yates to be successful on defense.
Hokies Win If: They establish the run game, pressure Yates and convert in the red zone.
Tar Heels Win If: They win the turnover battle, get the Hokies into 3rd-and-long situations and convert in the red zone.
Dot-dot-dots: The Hokies have won seven consecutive games, their longest win streak since they won eight games to start the 2005 season before losing to Miami ... since missing his first career field goal attempt, Chris Hazley has connected on his last 13 ... he did not attempt a FG against GT ... VT opponents have not attempted a field goal in the last three games and the Hokies have not had a field goal made against them since NC State made three of them ... Tyrod Taylor's red zone interception against GT was the Hokies' first failed red zone possession that wasn't a kneel-down since the loss to James Madison in Week 2 ... this is VT's best start in ACC play since 2005 when it started 5-0 in ACC play before losing to Miami ... the Hokies have never started 6-0 in the ACC.