With a home contest against Virginia Tech looming in two weeks, North Carolina gets one final warm-up before getting into the meat of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule. Enter the Idaho Vandals. In its first game against both Idaho and the Western Athletic Confence (WAC), North Carolina looks to show continued improvement on both sides of the ball while maintaining a healthy locker room.
These games are always unbearable and it’s a wonder teams so severely over-matched continue to agree to games like these.
Well, I gue$$ I understand the main reason for it. I feel like Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” should be playing in the background anytime these types of games are agreed to.
Idaho will be paid $800,000 by the University of North Carolina to take a royal butt-whooping. Along with the aforementioned game against LSU and the upcoming road contest at BYU, the Vandals will rack in a combined $2.35 million for their efforts.
That’s not a bad day at the office for a smaller university looking to make as much profit as possible off the craziness of conference realignment. Although I bet the coaches on staff and the players on the winless team have other thoughts on the matter.
North Carolina put an end to their two-game losing streak with a 27-6 victory over East Carolina a week ago. The win comes on the heels of consecutive losses to Wake Forest and Louisville by a combined five points.
In the victory, the Tar Heels outgained the Pirates by over 200 yards, including a 321-124 advantage in the air. Bryn Renner has thrown for over 300 yards in successive weeks and you should expect more of the same this week. The Idaho Vandals aren’t exactly the ’72 Dolphins or the ’85 Bears. Hell, they’re not even the ’76 Buccaneers.
The return of Gio Bernard has a better chance of preventing another Renner 300+ yard performance than the Idaho defense. After missing two games dealing with an injured knee, Bernard scored two touchdowns and paced the Tar Heels with 50 yards rushing against the Pirates.
The Idaho defense, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to stop anyone and is statistically one of the worst in the country.
Just last week, the defense gave up 445 yards in a 40-37 overtime loss to Wyoming. The defeat dropped the Vandals to 0-4 with previous losses against Eastern Washington, Bowling Green and LSU.
The Vandals offense isn’t much better. They average 16.8 points a game, which is good enough for 117th in the country. Their rushing offense is ranked 122nd while their lone partial bright-spot is the 51st ranked pass offense.
North Carolina should have no problem disposing of the clearly inferior Vandals on the way to a three-game winning streak heading into a crucial contest in the ACC Coastal.
While North Carolina’s bowl ban prevents them from winning the division, they want nothing more than to play spoiler to every other team in the conference while building a solid foundation for next season. For a team rebuilding and overcoming some adversity, there’s nothing better than gaining some confidence and giving other teams a reason to be concerned in 2013.