USC-UNC staff predictions, game preview

August 28, 2013 

North Carolina Begins Football

Larry Fedora and Bryn Renner

GERRY BROOME — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Josh Kendall: Are UNC's statistics legit?

So is North Carolina a dangerous underdog, a team that is entering its second season under a brash, offense-heavy coach primed for potentially one of the biggest upsets in school history?

Or is it a team that, as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier pointed out on his Tuesday night radio show, built a lot of its impressive offensive stats last year on 60-plus point wins against Elon and Idaho and not-so-stout ACC defenses?

We will find out Thursday night in Williams-Brice Stadium. The game is a sellout, and Spurrier has asked for volume from the crowd to make it difficult for the Tar Heels to communicate on offense.

“I’ve got a feeling our fans are going to be pumped for this one just like the Georgia game or the Clemson game,” Spurrier said.

My guess is the Tar Heels are somewhere between questions one and two above. They will likely hit a big play. My guess is tight end Eric Ebron will get past a young linebacker down the middle, to stay close in the first half, but the Gamecocks are a more proven commodity.

Prediction: SOUTH CAROLINA 31, NORTH CAROLINA 21

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David Cloninger: A win is a win, even a close one

South Carolina, as I blogged about early this week, has won its openers under Steve Spurrier. Every one.

Sometimes they have won comfortably (41-13 against Southern Miss in 2010), and often games in which they were expected to win easily turned into close outcomes (7-3 against N.C. State in 2009).

This year should be more of the same. I fully expect USC to beat North Carolina on Thursday night, and I would wager it will come down to a clutch defensive play in the fourth quarter.

The reasons? USC’s offense is solid, but it is missing its top tight end (and best goal-line pass-catcher) and its best receiver is hindered with a bad hamstring.

USC’s defense is breaking in a lot of youth in the middle, which is a bad place to do it playing a high-tempo offense that is designed to find quick holes. And, the Gamecocks will have a walk-on freshman kicking field goals and PATs in his first college game.

Nervous wins are still wins.

Prediction: SOUTH CAROLINA 28, NORTH CAROLINA 25

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