CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –– Unranked for the first time this season, North Carolina 6-2 (3-2 ACC) is trying to snap their two-game losing streak as they head into competition this week. They get a break from ACC play with a matchup against Campbell in what will be their fourth and final non-conference game of the season.
While this game should be a blowout, UNC lost to Virginia and Georgia Tech—two teams we clearly slept on. The Tar Heels are tied for fourth in the ACC and while things seem out of reach they can still compete for an ACC championship berth. However, another loss has the potential to sink the Tar Heels’ postseason hopes for good.
And the path back to the top is even tougher than before.
If UNC wishes to reignite the fire that characterized their first six games and get a win out of this weekend they must approach this game with stride and focus on internal defensive adjustments.
The Fighting Camels have already made history ahead of the game, as Saturday will mark the first time they’ve ever faced an ACC school. As a member of the Colonial Athletic Conference they sit at eighth in the 15-member league that features other N.C. schools, including Elon and NC A&T. They have a 4-4 record going into the matchup.
This Saturday could be the start of a turnaround for the Tar Heels and despite disappointing performances from their defense they still boast a stellar offense and one of the best in the country sitting at No.3 behind Oregon and LSU.
Quarterback Drake Maye has crept up on former projected No.1 overall pick USC’s Caleb Williams in the race to the 2024 NFL Draft. In this projection, Maye would find a home with the Arizona Cardinals. He’s racked up 2,559 yards – throwing for 300+ yards in four of those games. He’s also racked up 16 touchdowns.
The Camel’s quarterback isn’t too bad himself, having put up some solid numbers.
Hajj Malik-Wiliams has passed for 2,085 yards, completing nearly 74 percent of his passes this season.
The majority of UNC’s issues stem from inconsistencies on defense. They went from allowing 21 points per game at the start of the season to 38.5 in the midst of their losing streak. The unit also ranks 99th in the FBS in total defense – allowing 403.6 yards per game.
In between their two losses, where Maye threw for 347 and 310 yards respectively, the defense allowed a combined 1,071 yards. Their lack of productivity is inexplicable especially considering the wealth of talent on the squad,
including linebacker duo Cedric Gray and Power Echols, star Alijiah Huzzie and jack Kaimon Rucker.
Rucker has emphasized the importance of shutting out the outside noise and keeping everything within the program as they tread cautiously ahead in these final four weeks of regular season play.
With the exception of this weekend, the Tar Heels have the chance to close out this season better than their last if they can clean up the defense and string together a slew of wins against their final three conference opponents.
Who: North Carolina (6-2, 3-2 ACC) vs. Campbell (4-4)
When: Saturday, November 4th, 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC