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Syracuse vs. North Carolina: TV/streaming, time, odds, history & more

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After a week off, will Syracuse find its mojo or will the wheels fall off?

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Pittsburgh
Szmyt happens
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Teams: Syracuse Orange (4-2, 1-2) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-4, 1-2)

Day & Time: Saturday, October 20 at 12:20 p.m. ET

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

Line: Syracuse opened as a 12 to 10-point favorite

TV/Streaming: Raycom Sports (meaning the usual ACC Network affiliates) WatchESPN

Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3, SiriusXM: 955 (home) | 976 (away)

North Carolina blog: Tar Heel Blog

Rivalry: Tied, 2-2

Current Streak: 1, Orange

First Meeting: Syracuse football had fallen off the map after a disastrous 1993 campaign and a no-frills ‘94 season. So when the opener for ‘95 rolled around, you didn’t exactly need a step stool to see the expectations for that team. But as soon as redshirt freshman Donovan McNabb stepped on the field in Chapel Hill, it was obvious that Syracuse football was different. McNabb, playing his first-game ever for Paul Pasqualoni’s Orangemen, helped engineer an upset of No. 20 North Carolina, 20-9. The Frosh finished the game completing just 10 of his 16 attempted passes, and he didn’t throw for a score either. Still, McNabb kept plays alive, and was a revelation playing quarterback in what had become a rather mundane offense in the previous seasons.

With a sound defense, McNabb and someone named Marvin Harrison playing wide receiver, a national television audience could see that it wasn’t the same old Syracuse. (Of note: Pasqualoni waited as long as possible before announcing McNabb was his starter. That was either some gamesmanship, or Mr. Magoo-like player evaluating.)

Paul Pasqualoni Syracuse

Last Meeting: Syracuse traveled to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina in both team’s opening game of the 2003 season. The Orangemen, as they were known until the following year, won a wild game in three overtimes, 49-47. The Tar Heels actually had an early 10-0 lead, and held a 27-14 advantage at the half. However, Syracuse’s offense, led by quarterback RJ Anderson, starting firing after the intermission. The Orangemen outscored UNC, 20-7 in the third and fourth quarters combined, with Anderson throwing for two TDs in the comeback. A Collin Barber 37-yard field goal for Syracuse with just 32 ticks on the clock pushed the game into overtime. Both teams traded scores in the first overtime and both came up empty in the second. In the final OT, North Carolina scored but whiffed on the mandatory two-point attempt, something SU had accomplished in its drive.

Some key players from the game in orange and blue that day reads like a who’s who of old-school Syracuse: Johnnie Morant, Damien Rhodes and Walter Reyes just to name a few.

Head Coaches: SU: Dino Babers (3rd year, 12-18); North Carolina: Larry Fedora (7th year, 44–38)

Coach Bio: Larry Fedora has come along way since making his coaching debut as a grad-assistant for the Austin College Kangaroos in Texas back in 1986. The football-lifer has been a staple on sidelines for over three decades, climbing the ranks. Although, it’s hard to believe Fedora has already been with the Tar Heels for seven seasons after leaving his head-coaching gig at Southern Miss in 2012.

The first year at the helm for the Tar Heels was a successful one, as UNC went 8-4. It would have played in the ACC title game and a bowl had it not been for NCAA penalties brought on the program from the previous regime.

Following the initial year on campus, Fedora’s Tar Heel teams would go on to play in four straight bowl games (the lone win coming in the Belk Bowl in 2013). Making North Carolina a consistent winner again brought Fedora some added attention, which included a brief fling with Tennessee at one point. Ultimately, Fedora remained with the Heels and has suffered through just one losing season in his time with the program.

Last Year: Funny enough, that one losing season came in 2017, when North Carolina slogged its way through a 3-9 campaign. The Heels gave up 30 points or more in six contests, which included a 59-7 drubbing by Virginia Tech in Blacksburgh.

A major reason for the step backward in ‘17 was because Fedora’s group suffered some key injuries. That was especially so on the offensive front line, as UNC lost bigs like Bentley Spain and William Sweet for much of the season. Further, freshman quarterback in Chazz Surratt made some freshman-like plays in some key situations.

Last Game: North Carolina played one of its most complete games of the last couple of seasons, narrowly losing to Virginia Tech, 22-19. Actually, the Tar Heels led 19-14 and were one yard away from taking a commanding double-digit lead on the Hokies with just under seven minutes to play. That was when all hell broke loose as Michael Carter (not-Williams) fumbled the ball while attempting to power into the end zone. Virginia Tech picked up the loose ball, subsequently leading to an 18-play, 98-yard scoring drive that secured the comeback victory.

The Heels, prior to the late-game miscued, racked up 522 total yards of offense, with Carter rushing for a career-high 165 yards. The back nearly averaged a first down with each hand off or toss, coming in at 9.2 average per carry.

Fedora’s team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last weekend, but there was plenty of positive play on both sides of the ball. Given that effort, it’s plausible that North Carolina is better than its record. Especially considering that 13 players have missed time for Fedora in 2018 due suspensions stemming from a “sneaker sale scandal.”

“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Michael Carter (not-Williams). The back has played in just three games this season, but Carter has increased his production each time out. That, of course, led to his breakout performance against Virginia Tech last Saturday. In the previous game, at Miami, Carter rushed for 75 yards on just seven carries in a blowout loss to the Hurricanes.

Overall, North Carolina has had a difficult time on the ground, ranking 95th nationally (189.6 yards per game). But that’s countered by Syracuse’s weakness in stopping the run—the Orange give up an average of just over 180 yards rushing (83rd nationally). Brian Ward’s group has shown tremendous levels of improvement in terms of rushing the quarterback and in pass coverage. The linebacker corp, however, has major issues in tackling.

All of which makes the presence of Carter and fellow running back Antonio Williams (Carter-Williams!), who churned out 114 yards on 16 carries against Pittsburgh last month, the more frightening for SU.

If Syracuse Wins: The Orange will have appeared to right the ship a bit following the disappointing loss at Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Further, a victory would obviously put Syracuse one more win away from becoming bowl eligible, and it would set the stakes for a potentially very interesting home game with NC State on October 27. Assuming the nationally-ranked Wolfpack plays well at Clemson this weekend, that then should present Dino Babers’ squad with another opportunity to earn a big win on a big stage.

If Syracuse Loses: {slide whistle noise} A loss to the Tar Heels would show that the Pittsburgh defeat was something more than an aberration. At the moment, you can argue that the Orange is still on track to win six or more games and to get to a bowl game, even with last game in mind. Pitt was a mere flesh wound. But a home loss to a 1-4 team would put SU at 4-3, 1-3 and would make that Clemson effort look more like an aberration. It would make earning a bowl berth look more like a daydream.

It would show Pitt was more than just a mere flesh wound.

Fun Fact No. 1: Despite being in the same conference together since 2013, this weekend’s game will mark the first time North Carolina and Syracuse have played each other under the ACC moniker.

Fun Fact No. 2: In the only four meetings between the two, the home team has failed to win a game. Syracuse won at North Carolina in 1995 and again in 2003. While the Tar Heels returned serve in ‘96 and gained another victory in the Dome during the 2002 season.

Fun Fact No. 3: Larry Fedora might just be a little...out there.