UNC Football vs Wake Forest: Game preview, info, prediction and more

The UNC football program will take on in-state conference foe Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon in search of win No. 6 on the season.

Mack Brown and the North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off an impressive offensive display that saw them put up 56 points in a blowout victory over crosstown rival Duke last Saturday.

Everything was working for UNC in that game, as sophomore quarterback Sam Howell passed for 235 yards and three scores in addition to the team’s 338 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Howell himself contributed to that total with a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter, as did senior running back Michael Carter, who rushed for 85 yards and a 12-yard scamper into the end zone early in the fourth.

It was Javonte Williams, though, that once again shined for the now 5-2 Tar Heels. He had 151 rushing yards on just 12 carries, good for a 12.6 yards-per-carry average. Three of his four total touchdowns in the game came on the ground, though it was his 2-yard touchdown reception from Howell early in the first quarter that got the offensive clinic started for UNC. Carter, too, was on the receiving end of a Howell touchdown, giving him five total touchdowns for the season.

It’s Williams, however, that now leads the nation in touchdowns with 17, despite getting absolutely no recognition or a nod for Heisman consideration. His 14 rushing scores come in addition to his team-leading 767 yards on the ground, all while splitting carries with Carter, who has 733 rushing yards of his own. And Williams’ yards after contact and broken tackles statistics accumulated this season are better suited for a video game than real life.

The Tar Heels will look to throw a heavy dose of Williams at the Demon Deacons on Saturday when they travel to Chapel Hill for a rematch of last year’s 24-18 Wake Forest victory. North Carolina needs to take care of business against Wake and not look ahead to a big-time matchup with Notre Dame next, as well as Miami the following week.

Sure, the Tar Heels’ chances at an ACC championship game have dwindled thanks to an Irish victory over the Clemson Tigers last week, but any outside shot they have will require a win over both Notre Dame and Miami in consecutive weeks. But it starts this week with a win over the offensive-minded Deacons from Winston-Salem.

Key to Victory for UNC

The Tar Heels need to continue to pound the ball on the ground, and let Sam Howell take what the defense gives him in the passing game. It’s difficult for defenses to account for both Williams and Carter in the rushing attack, while covering a talented wide receiver corps that includes Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. Mack Brown has an embarrassment of wealth on that side of the football, and needs to ride it to victory for the rest of the season. If the UNC defense can just play half-way competent football, it’s difficult to beat North Carolina.

Something to watch for

Will another huge game for Javonte Williams get him the Heisman attention that he deserves? It’s an obvious indictment on Heisman voters and even on college football itself when a player like Williams — whose stats top those of other players getting Heisman consideration — isn’t even mentioned in the conversation. UNC fans are beginning to wonder what kind of numbers Williams would have to put up to be in that conversation.

What you need to know

WHAT? Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2, 3-2 ACC) @ North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2, 5-2 ACC)
WHEN? Saturday, November 14 – 12 p.m. ET
WHERE? Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
TV? ACC Network
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
WEATHER? Cloudy with a chance of rain, and a high of 62 degrees
LINE? UNC -13.5
LAST MEETING? Wake Forest won 24-18 in 2019
ALL-TIME SERIES? UNC leads series 69-36-2
PREDICTION? UNC 42, Wake Forest 27

Stick with Keeping It Heel for full coverage of the Tar Heels’ game on Saturday, and everything UNC football.