North Carolina vs. South Carolina Prediction, Game Preview

    North Carolina vs. South Carolina prediction and game preview for Thursday's matchup between the Tar Heels and Gamecocks.

    September 1, 2015

    State bragging rights will be on the line for North Carolina and South Carolina on the opening night of FBS play. The Gamecocks will head north to face the Tar Heels in Bank of America Stadium. Below is the North Carolina vs. South Carolina prediction and game preview. 

    North Carolina vs. South Carolina Prediction & Preview

    Broadcast Info

    Date: Thursday, September 5
    Game Time: 6:00 ET
    Network: ESPN
    Venue: Bank of America Stadium

    Why You Need To Care

    Both Carolinas will enter Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte Thursday night with a lot to prove, especially on defense.

    The Tar Heels and the Gamecocks missed their marks in 2014, combining to go a pedestrian 13-13. South Carolina was arguably the SEC’s biggest disappointment a year ago, even forcing venerable head coach Steve Spurrier to beat back allegations that he was nearing retirement. And the Gamecocks, with considerable losses on both sides of the ball, are no sure-thing to rebound this fall.

    It’s Year 4 for North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, and the program is still waiting to become a contender out of the ACC Coastal Division. The Heel defense was an unmitigated disaster throughout the 6-7 campaign, forcing Fedora to hand the D over to Gene Chizik, an SEC veteran familiar to Spurrier and the USC staff.

    Why North Carolina Will Win

    Carolina has issues. Offense won’t be one of them.

    The Tar Heels boast the better quarterback in this matchup, Marquise Williams. And the skill players, like backs T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood and receivers Quinshad Davis, Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins, will be a load for a star-less South Carolina D. The Heels are also experienced up front, led by All-America-caliber G Landon Turner.

    Why South Carolina Will Win

    Jon Hoke has a lot of work to do with the Gamecock D. Chizik, though, has an even bigger challenge in the battle of the new coordinators.

    While South Carolina can lean on LB Skai Moore and S T.J. Gurley, North Carolina is in a much bigger defensive quandary. And the Heels’ holes will help Gamecock QB Connor Mitch in his first career start. The presence of do-everything WR Pharoh Cooper and senior RB Brandon Wilds, who’ll help keep the ball away from Heels, will also aid Mitch.

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    Player Who Matters

    If someone doesn’t pressure the Carolina pocket, Williams will carve up the Gamecocks. Hoke needs someone who can consistently get around the edge; someone like JUCO transfer Marquavius Lewis. Fingers are crossed around Columbia that the Hutchinson (Kans.) Community College can provide the spark that this unit desperately needs. If Lewis can have his way with the average Tar Heel tackles, Hoke’s entire back seven will be the beneficiary.

    What’s Going To Happen

    North Carolina may have the better quarterback, and enough skill talent to compete in a shootout. But the edge on the sidelines—and on defense—belongs to South Carolina. Sure, this isn’t a vintage Gamecock D, but it’s still a solid level above the leaky Heels. And Hoke’s kids will thwart a late North Carolina rally, preserving a lead forged by big plays on offense from Cooper and Wilds.

    North Carolina vs. South Carolina Score Prediction

    Drum roll, please … the North Carolina vs. South Carolina prediction is …

    South Carolina 34, North Carolina 30

    Must See Rating

    5: True Detective, Season 1 – 1: True Detective, Season 2 … 3

    MORE: South Carolina Preview, UNC Preview

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