Dan Scott: UNC- Clemson Prediction


by - Correspondent -
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When Clemson Has The Ball

Clemson's offense should, by all rights, have a field day at the expense of the North Carolina defense. After all, virtually everyone else has. Even a favorable penalty ratio of 16-3 couldn't keep the Tar Heels from losing to Arizona State a week ago. But before you go buying extra batteries for your calculator, remember we thought the same scenario applied some 10 days ago when the Tigers visited N.C. State. But a change in pass coverage, plus some silly Clemson mistakes, led to Tommy Bowden's team scoring just 15 points in what may yet prove to be a back-breaking ACC defeat. Injuries have shelved tight end Bobby Williamson and running back Yusef Kelly for the game, and wide receiver Airese Currie will be less than 100 percent if he can go. Still, the Tigers should have enough firepower to put points on the board if they can protect quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Just a hunch here: watch for more of Chad Jasmin in the backfield.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson



When UNC Has The Ball

Tar Heel quarterback Darian Durant has no problems putting points on the board. It's just that with a defense as bad as UNC's, he rarely can score enough. Still, the threat Durant poses with both his arm and feet make him one of the most dangerous players in the ACC. Fortunately for Clemson, the one area of its game which has been consistently good and getting better is the defense. After holding high-scoring N.C. State to just 17 points, stopping the Tar Heels shouldn't be too difficult despite Durant's talent. One worry here - giving up an early big play or two that stokes the Tar Heel's confidence.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson



Special Teams

A three-for-three performance in the field goal category vs. N.C. State may have been the tonic for kicker Aaron Hunt's frayed confidence. Punter Cole Chason's last few efforts haven't been pretty, but he remains mostly effective. The Tigers could use a big play in the return game early vs. UNC, something that will get the Death Valley crowd up and keep the Tar Heel's confidence down.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson



Coaching

How's this for a difference in working conditions: North Carolina's John Bunting is still given something of a free pass at UNC, despite a 1-6 record in his third season, because it's widely accepted that former head coach Carl Torbush wrecked the program built by Mack Brown. Besides, basketball practice has started in the land of Baby Blue. Meanwhile at Clemson, Tommy Bowden's fan approval rating seems to vary from week to week (or is that win to loss?).

ADVANTAGE - Even



Bottom Line

The longer Clemson allows North Carolina to hang around in this one, the more dangerous the situation gets for Bowden. Clemson wins, but for some reason I don't expect it to be easy. Should they lose....? Nah, we won't even think those thoughts.



THE PICK

Clemson 26, UNC 19

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