North Carolina looks to bounce back against The Citadel
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) This could be a tricky spot on the schedule for North Carolina.
The Tar Heels dropped out of the Top 25 following a loss to one of their fiercest rivals, with the other one looming next week on a short week. In between is a seemingly harmless visit from a team from the Championship Subdivision.
Except that the FCS team coming in for Saturday's game – The Citadel – is one of only two undefeated teams at that level, has already wrapped up the Southern Conference title and a year ago knocked off a Power 5 program.
''The Citadel's not going to come in here and feel intimidated by any means,'' UNC coach Larry Fedora said. ''They'll come in here expecting to win a football game.''
North Carolina (7-3) doesn't have any time to wallow after a 28-27 loss to Duke put its hopes for a second straight trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in serious jeopardy, though Virginia Tech's loss to Georgia Tech two days later kept them alive. The Tar Heels need to beat North Carolina State next Friday and have Virginia upset the Hokies to earn a spot in the Orlando, Florida-based game.
But that's next week. Right now the priority is avoiding a slip-up against a lower-level opponent that beat South Carolina last year and has already sewn up a spot in the FCS playoffs that begin next week.
''We've got our work cut out for us, no doubt,'' first-year Citadel coach Brent Thompson said. ''It's always one of those things we look forward to, an FBS school on an FCS schedule.''
Some other things to know about the Citadel-North Carolina game:
RUNNING BULLDOGS: It's no secret how The Citadel is going to try to win – by controlling the clock with its triple-option offense, which is similar to the one Georgia Tech uses. North Carolina, which allows an ACC-worst 222 yards rushing per game, gave up 334 yards on the ground to the Yellow Jackets but won the game 48-20. ''You hope there's enough carryover with our guys that it will help because we only have a couple of days to get ready,'' Fedora said.
UNDER THE HOOD: North Carolina RB Elijah Hood's streak of 100-yard games ended last week when Duke held him to 75 yards on 13 carries, though he led the team with 58 yards receiving. Fedora says there were ''too many very basic things that we didn't do throughout that game which kept us from being efficient'' and ''just didn't make the plays to put the ball in the end zone.''
NO PICKS: North Carolina's defense has one of the more bizarre streaks in college football: The Tar Heels are the only FBS team without an interception. They may not get one this week, either, because The Citadel throws fewer than 10 passes per game.
KEEPING IT TIGHT: Both teams are used to playing close games. Seven of The Citadel's 10 games have been decided by 10 or fewer points, while the Tar Heels have played four games decided by a total of 11 points. Their record is 3-1 in those games with the lone loss coming last week to Duke.
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