ACC Championship Preview: No. 23 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Clemson
12 weeks down and the Atlantic Coastal Conference Championship is set to go on Saturday as the No. 23 North Carolina Tar Heels will take on the No. 9 Clemson Tigers. Let’s take a look at how these two teams match up in this thriller of a game.
UNC comes into this one 9-3 after falling to Georgia Tech and NC State in their final two games of the season. North Carolina went 6-2 in conference games, defeating some of their rivals within the Coastal division of the ACC to remain on top.
Star quarterback Drake Maye has led this UNC offense to become one of the best passing offenses in the ACC. Maye has thrown for 3847 yards, 35 touchdowns, and only five interceptions during the season while also rushing for 629 yards and six touchdowns.
Maye is the heart and soul of the offense but Cedric Gray runs the defense, ending the season with 129 total tackles, two interceptions and five passing deflections. While Gray has been flying all over the place, the rest of the Tar Heels defense has struggled, giving up 442 yards a game which ranks one of the worst in the ACC.
On the other hand, the Tigers have been a dominant defensive unit throughout the season, especially against a very difficult in-conference schedule. The defense has only allowed 326.7 yards a game while creating 18 turnovers and 36 sacks on the season.
On the flip side, the Clemson offense hasn’t been as dominant as in years past but their run game has never been better with running back Will Shipley who has run for 1,092 yards and 14 touchdowns. The entire team has run for over 2,200 yards and 27 touchdowns during the regular season, which is one of the best in the ACC rushing offenses.
The run game has allowed junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to throw for 2,511 yards and 22 touchdowns. This offense with the dominant defense allowed the team to finish 10-2 and be on top of the Atlantic division in the ACC.
North Carolina will need to get off to a hot start and remain that way throughout the game if they want a chance in this one. Clemon’s will have a field day against this defense if they rely on them too much.
For Clemson, look for them to stick with their strengths and continue to run the rock with their defense making incredible stops throughout the game. Uiagalelei needs to feel relaxed and in sync, so establishing the run-and-play action game will need to come early for the Tigers.
Can the Clemson Tigers win their eighth ACC title in program history or will the North Carolina Tar Heels get the unset over the Tigers and take their seventh ACC Championship in team history?
Che’Randa Hammond is a third year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Third Year / Broadcast Journalism
CheRanda Hammond is a third-year majoring in Broadcast Journalism with minors in sports studies and marketing. She is a first-year member of CommRadio and After The Whistle and a second-year member in Penn State Sports Night. I am involved in Penn State’s THON with the organization FOTO. She is also a member of Minorities in Sports: Next and Association for Women in Sports Media national and Penn State Chapter.