UNC vs. The Citadel prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Tar Heels and Bulldogs on Saturday in Chapel Hill, NC.
UNC vs. The Citadel Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 19 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
TV Broadcast: ACC Extra
The Tar Heels (7-3, 5-2 ACC) are coming off of a really tough road loss to Duke last week, as the Blue Devils played one of their cleanest games of the year to claim a 28-27 win. Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones ran for two scores and threw for another one in the victory. It was a brutal loss for the Tar Heels considering Virginia Tech ended up losing to Georgia Tech two days later, which would have helped UNC’s ACC Coastal division cause. Virginia Tech plays Notre Dame in a non-conference game this week but can clinch the Coastal the following week against Virginia. VT’s head-to-head win gives it the tiebreaker over the Tar Heels, who also have two ACC losses.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs (10-0) are ranked No. 5 in the FCS and are one of two remaining undefeated FCS teams and one of only four unbeaten teams in all of Division I. The Citadel earned its second straight Southern Conference championship and earned the SoCon’s automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs, marking the first time in program history the team has made back-to-back playoff appearances. This will be its regular season finale, with the postseason bracket being announced on Sunday morning.
This will be the fifth meeting between these programs, with the previous one occurring in 2009. In that contest, UNC’s T.J. Yates threw two touchdown passes in a 40-6 win, as the Tar Heels had a 261-30 advantage in yards on the ground. The Citadel quarterback Bart Blanchard was 21 of 37 through the air for 117 yards, but he threw three first-half interceptions. UNC is 4-0 all-time against the Bulldogs.
What To Know About UNC
The Tar Heels jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead last week against Duke behind the strong play of quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who completed 12 of his first 15 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns. However, he threw for just 97 yards on 12-of-18 passing with two interceptions the rest of the way as UNC managed only six points in the third and fourth quarters. Duke’s defense really clamped down, but the Tar Heels’ surprisingly anemic offense had something to do with that as well. UNC had won nine straight true road games prior to the loss, which was tied with Clemson for third-longest in the nation behind Alabama and Oklahoma. Things do not get any easier this week. In fact, The Citadel will pose a real threat because it is one of the best rushing teams in the country.
What to Know About The Citadel
Head coach Brent Thompson is enjoying a fine season, as he was recently named an Eddie Robinson Award finalist in his first year leading the Bulldogs after two years as offensive coordinator. He bested The Citadel’s record for most wins by a first-year head coach and is one of only two first-year head coaches in SoCon history to win eight conference games. How does The Citadel get the ball into the end zone? Mostly on the ground, as The Citadel leads all of Division I in rushing yards per game, averaging 359.9 yards on the ground. The Bulldogs have also only allowed just one sack and leads the SoCon in yards per completion and third-down conversions. Cam Jackson is No. 1 in the SoCon and No. 3 in FCS at 7.29 yards per rush. And the Bulldogs are not a one-trick pony, either. Defensively, they are conference leaders in fewest first downs allowed, third-down defense, tackles for loss and sacks.
Offense: Even. The Tar Heels have a well-balanced attack, while The Citadel’s rushing game is top-notch.
Defense: Even. The Citadel has better numbers relative to its competition, but UNC has a better quality of athlete on that side of the ball.
Special Teams: Even. The Citadel’s Cody Clark is 12-of-15 on field goals, but UNC’s Ryan Switzer is a very dangerous return man.
Coaching: Even. Larry Fedora has been tied to the potential LSU opening, but The Citadel’s Thompson has made a smooth transition to being a head coach.
Intangibles: The Citadel. The Bulldogs have absolutely nothing to lose in this one—except a perfect record.
Matchup To Watch
The Citadel rush offense vs. UNC run defense
The Tar Heels are very porous against the run, allowing opponents to churn out 222.3 yards per game, which ranks No. 106 in the FBS. If The Citadel is able to assert its will in the trenches, it could be a long day for the Tar Heels.
Spread: UNC -21.5
UNC vs. The Citadel Prediction
The Tar Heels absolutely have to be on guard in this one. The Bulldogs are one of the most complete teams in FCS, and their rushing attack will cause problems for a UNC defense that has been very generous against the run. Ultimately, Trubisky and the offense will kick things into high gear. But The Citadel will hang around into the fourth quarter before falling short. It’s been a heck of a season for the Bulldogs, as they’ll finish with just one setback.
UNC vs. The Citadel Score Prediction: UNC 38, The Citadel 24