The Eagles won last season’s showdown 37-24, but this is the first time the two teams have met in Chapel Hill since the Tar Heels blasted the Eagles 56-14 in 1981 -- BC returned the favor with a 52-20 thrashing of UNC in Boston in 1984. This is only the fourth meeting between the two schools and their first as ACC opponents.
The Eagles are coming off a 30-10 loss to third-ranked Virginia Tech. Quarterback Michael Vick threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns and the Hokies rushed for 212 yards to defeat then-11th ranked BC on national television.
BC knows its postseason destination will be determined over the course of the next three weeks, as they play two road games (UNC, Maryland) and one at home (NC State). The Eagles are already bowl eligible for a school record seventh consecutive year – having won six bowl games in a row – currently the nation’s longest bowl winning streak.
QUOTABLE – Tom O’Brien
“There’s still so much for us to accomplish this year. I’m sure there’s disappointment that we’re out of the ACC race right now, but we know there are still bowl games to accomplish, winning seasons and all those types of things. It’s the last go-round for our seniors.
“North Carolina has nine starters back on defense from last year. It’s almost the same team we played in the bowl game. They chase the quarterback on offense. Their strength, they feel, is their offensive line. They have two big backs to run with power. It will be a big challenge for our football team. We look forward to it. We start the month of November. Now it’s the race to a bowl game for us. They return their best defensive lineman that sat out a year ago, so he is back in the middle and in the mix for them. So, they are solid on defense. Offensively, it’s the same scheme that they have. They can run with power and they can run away with you.
It’s going to be a big challenge for us to go down to Carolina and come away win the football game.”
Quinton Porter (#15, 6-5, 233, Sr.) returned as a starter versus Virginia after missing two games with an ankle sprain, completing 25 of 31 passes for 301 yards. For the season, he’s connecting on 63.8 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Matt Ryan (#12, 6-5, 221, So.) started in place of Porter for two games, including a 221-yard passing performance in the win over Clemson. He’s thrown for three scores and given up three picks.
In each season since 1998, BC has amassed over 1,000 yards on the ground. L.V. Whitworth (#30, 6-0, 222, So.) is one of the three tailbacks that combined for 1,648 total rushing yards last season. He will make his 15th consecutive start versus the Tar Heels. Andre Callender (#32, 5-11, 199, So.) alternates playing time with Whitworth and has also returned kickoffs for the Eagles this year. The two have combined this season for 933 yards and four touchdowns. Fullback Mark Palmer (#49, 6-3, 245, Jr.) is expected to return to the lineup after missing three games due to a concussion he suffered versus Clemson. The designated goal line back is linebacker Brian Toal, who has six touchdowns.
Will Blackmon (#1, 6-0, 202, Sr.), a converted cornerback, is BC’s leading receiver. He also returns kicks and punts, and plays defense. He’s caught 32 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Larry Lester (#6, 5-8, 183, Jr.) is the speedster that will get his ninth start on offense this week. He also started 12 games as a safety in 2002. Jason Lilly (#82, 6-2, 213, Jr.) had a key 35-yard reception in the season opener against BYU. Tony Gonzalez (#26, 5-11, 190, Jr.) had last season’s most memorable play, a 30-yard touchdown catch that led the Eagles to 24-23 win at Notre Dame. The Eagles have nine players who have over 100 yards receiving.
Chris Miller (#88, 6-5, 258, Sr.) had a career-best two touchdown catches against BYU, his first start ever at tight end. He’s third on the team with 19 receptions for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Backup Trey Koziol (#87, 6-5, 255, So.) has yet to catch a pass.
In its 2005 media guide, BC refers to itself as “O-Line U,” due to the success the Eagles have had placing players in the NFL. All five starters return from 2004 and are healthy. Their combined weight total is a whopping 1,586 pounds – with three of the five 6-foot-7 or taller. Left tackle Jeremy Trueblood (#72, 6-9, 330, Sr.) was a high school teammate of Mathias Kiwanuka and is the cornerstone of the unit. Left guard James Marten (#70, 6-8, 313, Jr.) broke into the starting lineup for the first time last year and has started 20 straight games since. Center Pat Ross (#6-4, 295, Sr.), a team co-captain, is one of the three most experienced players on the team, getting ready for his 34th consecutive start. Right guard Josh Beekman #75, 6-2, 320, Jr.) is a campus and community leader off the field. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus (#77, 6-7, 310, So.) is the beast of the line.
What more can be said about All-America end Mathias Kiwanuka (#94, 6-7, 261, Sr.)? He was voted ACC Preseason Player of the Year before he ever played a snap in the conference. Kiwanuka, who has a team-high 3.5 sacks and 5.0 tackles for loss so far this season, will play on both sides of the defensive line. Left tackle Alvin Washington (#56, 6-1, 280, Sr.) emerged as a team leader last season. Right tackle B.J. Raji (#90, 6-1, 322, So.) has 3.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup. Right end Nick Larkin (#57, 6-4, 246, So.) has two sacks.
Ricky Brown (#55, 6-2, 233, Sr.) is ranked fifth on the team with 31 tackles. He forced two fumbles last week versus Virginia Tech. Ray Henderson (#3, 6-3, 227, Sr.), along with Kiwanuka, are the two most experienced members of the defense. He is getting his 34th start this week. He is second on the team with 52 stops, including 4.5 TFLs. Brian Toal (#16, 6-1, 223, So.) was last year’s Big East Rookie of the Year, after scoring touchdowns in games against Army and Virginia.
Strong safety Ryan Glasper (#24, 6-0, 205, Jr.) is back in the lineup after missing the Ball State game with an injury. Free safety Jamie Silva (#44, 5-11, 208, So.) took over as a starter versus UVa and responded with a career-high 14 solo tackles. For his effort in the Wake Forest game – 11 tackles, nine solo – he was named on of the ACC’s Players of the Week. Cornerback DeJuan Tribble (#27, 5-9, 187, So.) supplanted Blackmon as the starter four games into last year. The other corner is Jazzmen Williams (#4, 5-8, 181, Sr.), who is just returning to action after suffering a quad injury. The Eagles have just four interceptions on the season.
William Troost (#62, 5-9, 154, Sr.) replaced Ryan Ohliger (#20, 5-9, 195, jr.) as the starting place-kicker this season, but Ohliger still handles kickoffs. Troost converted his only attempt this season, a 26-yarder. Punter Johnny Ayers (#46, 5-11, 179, So.) starred at quarterback, free safety, punter and kicker in high school. Blackmon was a preseason All-America second team selection and ranked the No. 2 kick returner in the nation by The Sporting News. He averages 21.6 yards per kick return and 7.6 on punts, and has yet to return one for a touchdown.