College Football
Preview
North Carolina at Virginia Tech
When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, October 21, 2017
Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia

Teams heading in opposite directions meet Saturday when North Carolina visits No. 14 Virginia Tech during homecoming weekend. The Hokies are 5-1 with their lone loss against defending champion Clemson and coming off a bye week after dropping Boston College 23-10 on Oct. 7, while the Tar Heels are trying to avoid a fifth consecutive loss in one season for the first time since 2006.

With a record-setting quarterback and a stingy defense, Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente needs to make sure his surging team doesn’t overlook its struggling opponent. “Well, you don’t have to look at the film very long to realize that they have good players, they’re very well-coached,” Fuente told the media earlier this week. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for coach (Larry) Fedora and the program, the history and the talent that they have on that roster.” The Tar Heels have averaged just 12 points per outing during their skid after last week’s 20-14 defeat against Virginia, and their only win has come against FCS foe Old Dominion. Virginia Tech will have a decided advantage at the quarterback spot, as Josh Jackson leads all FBS freshmen with 1,700 passing yards and 13 touchdowns and is second in passer rating (158.2), while North Carolina will give LSU transfer Brandon Harris his second start of the season Saturday.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Virginia Tech -21.

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (1-6, 0-4 ACC): Harris replaced Chazz Surratt last week and completed only 7-of-18 passes for 46 yards with three interceptions, but Fedora felt “Brandon’s decision-making in the game was fine and that there was one interception that he would like to have back.” The offensive highlight last week was 5-9 freshman Michael Carter, who ran for a season-high 157 yards and two touchdowns, including 127 yards and both of his scores in the third quarter as the Tar Heels came back from a 10-0 halftime deficit. Jackson, whose TD passes are the most ever by a Virginia Tech freshman, needs 141 yards to overtake Michael Vick’s freshman record for passing yards (1,840 in 1999) and is looking forward to attacking a defense that is surrendering 31 points and 461 yards per contest.

ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (5-1, 1-1): Jackson leads the ACC in passer rating (158.17), which is 13th in FBS, is third in the conference in total offense (309 yards per game) and fifth in passing yards per game (283.3). Wide receiver Cam Phillips, who ranks second in Tech history with 207 catches and third in receiving yards with 2,671, is hopeful to return after leaving the Boston College game with a foot sprain. Led by defensive backs Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander, opponents are completing just 44 percent of its passes for 387 yards with only one TD in three home games this season, and the defense is second in the ACC and seventh in FBS in scoring defense (13.7 points).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Virginia Tech leads the all-time series 21-12-6, including beating then-No. 16 North Carolina 34-3 last season in a contest played amidst Hurricane Matthew.

2. North Carolina has lost five straight ACC contests and hasn’t won a conference road game since a 35-14 win at Virginia on Oct. 22, 2016.

3. Phillips leads the Hokies with 42 catches to rank fifth in the ACC, and he’s caught a pass in a school-record 33 straight games.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 38, North Carolina 10
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
North Carolina 1-6 L4 23.7 31.1 0-5 1-1 0-6 0-0 0-4
Virginia Tech 5-1 W1 33.3 13.7 3-1 2-0 4-1 0-0 1-1
Last Meeting
North Carolina Virginia Tech
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/8/16 VT 34 UNC 3 131 73 58 264 189 75
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
North Carolina M. Trubisky 39.4 58 0 2
Virginia Tech J. Evans 41.2 75 2 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
North Carolina T. Logan 14 67 4.8 0
Virginia Tech T. McMillian 17 76 4.5 1
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
North Carolina T. Logan 6 30 5.0 0
Virginia Tech B. Hodges 1 28 28.0 0
Touchdowns Player TD
North Carolina C. Albright 0
Virginia Tech C. Cunningham 1
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
North Carolina C. Surratt 58.8 1167 6 3
Virginia Tech J. Jackson 65.6 1700 13 4
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
North Carolina M. Carter 61 388 6.4 7
Virginia Tech T. McMillian 55 279 5.1 2
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
North Carolina A. Proehl 16 270 16.9 1
Virginia Tech C. Phillips 42 608 14.5 5
Touchdowns Player TD
North Carolina M. Carter 7
Virginia Tech C. Phillips 5
Quickchart Matchup
North Carolina North Carolina Off vs  Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Def
North Carolina 356.9 yards
Virginia Tech 320.2 yards
North Carolina 4.2 yards/rush
Virginia Tech 3.4 yards/rush
North Carolina 6.4 yards/attempt
Virginia Tech 6.6 yards/attempt
Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Off vs  North Carolina North Carolina Def
Virginia Tech 467 yards
North Carolina 460.9 yards
Virginia Tech 4 yards/rush
North Carolina 4.9 yards/rush
Virginia Tech 8.7 yards/attempt
North Carolina 7.5 yards/attempt