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Week 10 Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

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The Jackets head to Chapel Hill to take on Mitch Trubisky and #21 ranked North Carolina as they look to become bowl eligible.

NCAA Football: Duke at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Season So Far

After losing their season opener to uga, UNC went on a four game winning streak, capped off by an upset win on the road against #12 Florida State. The Tar Heels entered the next week ranked #17 in the country. That is when Virginia Tech came to town and demolished North Carolina, 34-3. In the Tar Heels defense, the game took place during Hurricane Matthew, which was not a good match for their high-flying offense. Sure enough, UNC bounced back the following week with a 20-13 win over #16 Miami. North Carolina currently sits at 5-2 and in first place in the coastal.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is having a sensational season, completing a staggering 71% of his passes for an average of 8.34 yards per play and 18 TDs. In what feels like his 10th season in Chapel Hill, Ryan Switzer leads the Tar Heels in receiving yards with 678 and is still an electrifying kick returner. Running backs Elijah Hood and TJ Logan both pace the Tar Heels on the ground with 470 rushing yards each.

Offseason Preview (link)

Who’s gone? QB Marquise Williams, WR Quinshad Davis, RG Landon Turner and LBs Shakeel Rashad & Jeff Schoettmer

Who’s back? QB Mitch Trubisky and RB Elijah Hood

UNC lost three year starter Marquise Williams, who last season developed into one of the most electric quarterbacks in the country. Luckily for UNC fans, his backup Mitch Trubisky is not too shabby himself. He has been nearly unstoppable this season and is now projected in many mocks to be a top five pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Returning running back Elijah Hood has battled multiple injuries this season, but still leads the Tar Heels in rushing and says he is finally feeling 100%. Hood rushed for 1,500 yards last season.

Matchup Preview

College football fans will want to tune into this one just to see the quarterback matchup. On the field Saturday will be Justin Thomas, coming off of the best game of his career, against Mitch Trubisky, projected to be the first quarterback off the board in this years NFL draft. The defensive game plan for both teams is pretty obvious, but neither will likely be very successful. Both defenses have struggled this season and both quarterbacks seem to have their offenses clicking. While I wouldn’t expect this game to reach 2012 levels, when the Jackets won 68-50, we could see a lot of points on Saturday.

Tech should have no issue getting the ground game going this weekend as the Tar Heels rank 96th in the nation against the run, allowing over 200 yards per game. Freshman B-back Dedrick Mills returns from injury this week, after missing last weeks game against Duke. However, Tech will be missing their third and sixth leading rushers, Marcus Marshall and JJ Green, to injury.

Keep an eye on the Tech pass rush this weekend. Facing one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the nation, the Jackets will have to get pressure in the backfield. If not, Trubisky will have a field day. The defensive unit currently ranks 122nd in the nation with just 8 sacks. Patrick Gamble and Antonio Simmons will have to step up and have big games in this one.

For the second week in a row and third time this season, the Jackets will be playing a team coming off of their bye. Paul Johnson, who is 6-11 when Tech’s opponent is coming off their bye week, has previously complained about the abnormally high number of times teams have received a bye week before playing the Jackets. “I think that’s a rule in our league. I think everybody takes a week off before they play us,” Johnson joked earlier this season.

Georgia Tech leads the overall series 28-19-3, including winning 14 of the last 18, although UNC has won two in a row. Paul Johnson is 5-3 against the Tar Heels.

Vegas Line

GaTech +10.5

Prediction

While I could see this game going either way, there are a lot of factors working against the Jackets. The Tar Heels, probably the more talented team, are coming off of a bye week and get to play at home. Tar Heels win 31-24 and make it three in a row against Tech.

Weekly Press Conference