Rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State bring 8-win marks into latest neighborly tussle

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

North Carolina (8-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) at North Carolina State (8-3, 5-2), Saturday at 8 p.m. (ACC Network)

Line: North Carolina by 2 1/2, according to .

Series record: UNC leads 68-38-6.


The rivalry matchup pairs two teams separated by about a 30-minute drive along Interstate 40, with fan bases living on top of one another. That puts some spice in the series dating to 1894, along with frequent recruiting battles. Both are headed to bowl games and chasing a possible 10-win season.


UNC QB Drake Maye vs. N.C. State LB Payton Wilson. Maye and Wilson are two of the league's top players leading units that will present tough challenges to each other. Maye is sixth in the Bowl Subdivision ranks in passing (304.9) and second in total offense (336.1) at the helm of a prolific attack (third in FBS at 514.8 yards per game). Wilson is tied for sixth nationally in tackles (11.2) and leading a defense allowing 20.2 points per game.


UNC: RB Omarion Hampton. While Maye has been terrific, Hampton has powered the Tar Heels' offense with his power running style. He has run for 100+ yards in six straight games, becoming the first UNC player to do so since 1970. He is tied for the national lead by averaging 128.6 yards to go with 15 rushing scores.

N.C. State: QB Brennan Armstrong. Armstrong has looked more comfortable since returning to the starting lineup for the win at Wake Forest. He has thrown three touchdown passes with no interceptions in the last two games, while he has run for 185 yards and three TDs in those games.


The last two meetings have come down to dramatic finishes, each won by the Wolfpack. First was a wild comeback at home with two touchdowns in the last 26 seconds for a 34-30 win in 2021. Then came last year's 30-27 double-overtime win in Chapel Hill, which ended when UNC's Noah Burnette missed a 35-yard field goal. ... Burnette made six field goals in a double-overtime win against Duke earlier this month and has missed just one kick this season. ... N.C. State is one of four teams in the Power Five conferences with at least eight wins in four straight seasons, joining Georgia, Alabama and Notre Dame. ... N.C. State's defense is allowing 308.4 yards and 16.4 points in league games. ... UNC joins LSU as the only teams in FBS to average better than 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. ... The Tar Heels rank ninth nationally in third-down percentage by converting 49.7% of those chances. ... UNC coach Mack Brown lost the first five meetings (1988-92) against N.C. State during his first coaching tenure in Chapel Hill before winning the last five (1993-97, then won the first two meetings of his second tenure (2019, 2020) before losing the last two. ... N.C. State is 3-0 in November for the first time since 2008. ... Armstrong threw for 554 yards against UNC in 2021 while playing for Virginia.


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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football