Carolina and Georgia State will meet on the football field for the first time on Saturday for a primetime kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET on RSN. The Tar Heels opened the 2021 campaign last
Friday night, falling 17-10 to host Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. It was the first loss to open a season since Mack Brown returned to Chapel Hill in 2019. Georgia State lost a home game to Army, 43-10, last Saturday in Atlanta.
- Carolina is 95-29-3 in home-opening games and 45-23 since the ACC began in 1953.
- Head coach Mack Brown is 26-6 all-time in home openers, 10-2 at Carolina.
- UNC has won three in a row and nine of its last 10 home openers, including a 31-6 victory over Syracuse in 2020.
- Sam Howell became the Tar Heels’ career touchdown pass leader when he connected with Josh Downs for a 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter last Saturday. Howell’s 69th career touchdown broke a tie with Darian Durant, who set the record back in 2004.
- Tomon Fox was credited with a half sack against Virginia Tech that moved him past Lawrence Taylor for sole possession of fifth place in program history with 21.5 career sacks. Fox also ranks seventh at UNC with 33.5 career tackles for loss.
- Carolina’s defense surrendered three points in the second half against Virginia Tech, a key reason why the Tar Heels were still threatening to send the game into overtime in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
- An interception from Ja’Qurious Conley and several three-and-outs forced were vital for UNC in staying the game after falling behind 14-0 at the half. Conley also picked up a fumble in the first quarter that ended a Hokie drive at the UNC 9-yard line. Trey Morrison forced the fumble when he jarred the ball loose from Virginia Tech’s Keshawn King.
- Sophomore wide receiver Josh Downs was Sam Howell’s favorite target last week in the season opener at Virginia Tech. Making his first collegiate start, Downs caught nine of 11 targets for 132 yards and one dazzling touchdown, a 37-yard screen pass in the third quarter.
- Grad transfer Ty Chandler and sophomore D.J. Jones were the featured backs for Carolina in the season opener at Virginia Tech. Chandler rushed for 66 yards on 10 carries, while Jones gained 43 yards on six attempts. They combined for 109 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry on 16 attempts. Jones had the longest rush of the night, 29 yards, while Chandler had a 23-yard rush of his own.
About Georgia State
- Coming off back-to-back bowl berths, Georgia State returns 22 starters from last year’s LendingTree Bowl champions, including all 11 starters on offense and nine starters on defense as well as the punter and placekicker.
- Georgia State is opening the season with five straight games against teams that are ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes.
- Georgia State is playing its first contest against a Power Five program since the Panthers’ 38-30 victory at Tennessee in the 2019 season opener, the program’s first win over a Power Five team. (The scheduled 2020 game at Alabama was canceled.) In that Tennessee win, Georgia State trailed 17-14 at the half but outscored the Vols 24-13 in the second half. Tra Barnett’s 19-yard run gave GSU a 28-23 lead, and then quarterback Dan Ellington sealed the win with a 22-yard touchdown run with five minutes left. Now Georgia State’s running backs coach, Ellington also threw two TD passes in the game, and the GSU defense held Tennessee to 98 yards rushing.
- This is the first of two Power Five games this season for the Panthers, who will travel to Auburn on Sept. 25.
- Georgia State is 0-8 all-time vs. ranked FBS teams, but five of the eight games have come against Power Five teams ranked 12th or higher in the AP poll. Last season, the Panthers lost 34-31 in overtime to No. 19/21 Louisiana in the season opener. GSU also had a close call at No. 9 Wisconsin in 2016, leading 17-13 with less than 10 minutes to play before the Badgers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:25 left and went on to win 23-17.
- With all 11 offensive starters, back, Georgia State returns 97.6 percent of its offensive yardage from 2020, when the Panthers averaged 424.3 yards and a school-record 33.3 points per game. That includes 100 percent of GSU’s passing yardage, 99.1 percent of its rushing yards and 96.4 percent of its receiving yards. Every player who scored a point returns.
- Quarterback Cornelious “Quad” Brown IV had a strong finish to the 2020 season, averaging 313 yards passing and 336 yards of total offense while completing 65 percent (63-97) of his passes in GSU’s season-ending threegame winning streak. In all three games he directed comebacks.
- Georgia State’s starting offensive line has combined for 142 career starts, led by left guard Shamarious Gilmore with 48 starts. In that group, Gilmore, Sumter and Bartlett have started Georgia State’s last 29 games.
- Senior wideout Cornelius McCoy, a three-time All-Sun Belt selection, ranks among the active FBS leaders with a reception in 33 straight games (every game he has played.)
- Georgia State has six “super seniors” who have returned for an extra year of eligibility: LG Shamarious Gilmore, TE Roger Carter, NG Dontae Wilson, OLB DeAndre Bowman, PK Noel Ruiz, S Chris Moore. Gilmore (6th year), Bowman (6th), Carter (5th) and Wilson (5th) have spent their entire careers at GSU while Ruiz and Moore enrolled in 2020 as graduate transfers.
- All-Sun Belt Conference placekicker Noel Ruiz ranks among the active FBS leaders in career points, field goals and extra points.
- Georgia State senior outside linebacker Jhi’Shawn Taylor is the older brother of UNC defensive lineman Jahlil Taylor. The brothers played at Crisp County High School in south Georgia.
- Georgia State backup inside linebacker Kyle Wright began his career with one season at North Carolina before transferring to GSU in 2019. Wright played in four games for UNC in 2018 and made two tackles
- Head coach Shawn Elliott is very familiar with UNC offensive line coach Stacy Searles, who was the o-line coach at Appalachian State when Elliott played defensive line for the Mountaineers. As a young coach at App State, Elliott spent two years as the tight ends coach working under Searles and then succeeded him as offensive line coach in 2001. Elliott also coached with UNC receivers coach Lonnie Galloway at App State.
How to Follow
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Television: RSN: Tom Werme, play-by-play; James Bates, analyst; Abby Labar, sideline
Live Stream: ESPN3
WestWood One Radio: Bill Roth, play-by-play; Ben Leber, analyst
Tar Heel Sports Network: Jones Angell, play-by-play; Lee Pace, analyst; Dave Nathan, sideline
Satellite Radio: Sirius (84), XM (84)