In the most recent 2003 meeting at Death Valley, UNC led 28-23 in the third quarter before losing 36-28. In 2001, Carolina rolled 38-3 on the Tigers’ home field on their way to a Peach Bowl championship. As a UNC linebacker in 1970, John Bunting and the Tar Heels won easily at Clemson, 42-7.
Carolina’s ‘01 win tied the largest margin of victory for a Bunting-coached UNC team.
Bunting is 1-2 all-time versus Clemson as a coach and 3-0 as a player against the Tigers.
“I’m looking forward to going down to Clemson,” Bunting said. “It’s a great place to play, and their fans are terrific.”
Tackle Brian Chacos only once experienced the football-crazy atmosphere there – in the 2003 meeting. It left an indelible memory on the sixth-year senior, and like him, some of the names haven’t changed.
“I remember it is really a great place to play and a great atmosphere,” Chacos said. “You just have to be ready to go down there and bring it.”
The forecast for a UNC win hardly appears promising on paper. Clemson leads the conference in scoring offense, averaging 38 points per game. The Tigers are ranked third in the league in total defense.
Individually, tailback James Davis ranks No. 1 in the ACC with 91.3 rushing yards per game, and quarterback Will Proctor is second in passing yards per games with 234.3.
“We know what we’ve got to get done in terms of their high powered offense and against their defense that is ranked very high, also,” Bunting said.
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said, “This has been our problem in the past. We mess up and lose a game the week after a big win. Just because you're favored does not necessarily mean you’re going to win the game.”
The Tar Heels will get a lift from some returning personnel, with safety Kareen Taylor and defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer returning from injury on defense, and with guard Ben Lemming scheduled to see his first meaningful action of the year on the offensive line following recovery from an illness.
“We are getting a few guys back and they’ve been practicing all week,” Bunting said.
Considering the quality of the opponent and the hostile territory that await on Saturday, the Tar Heels will need them.