North Carolina, South Carolina kick off College Football Season on Thursday

Who? North Carolina @ #6 South Carolina

When? Thursday, August 29, 6:00 P.M. (ESPN)

Where? Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, South Carolina

Impact Players, North Carolina: QB Bryn Renner, TE Eric Ebron, LT James Hurst, DB Tre Boston

Impact Players, South Carolina: DE Jadaveon Clowney, QB Connor Shaw, WR Bruce Ellington, DB Victor Hampton

Head Coach Matchup: Larry Fedora (2nd year at North Carolina, 8-4) vs Steve Spurrier (9th year at South Carolina, 66-37)

Matchup to Watch: North Carolina LT James Hurst vs South Carolina DE Jadaveon Clowney

Prediction: South Carolina 28, North Carolina 20

Team Comparison: (2012)

Points Per Game – UNC, 40.6 (8th) / S CAR, 31.5 (44th)

Passing Yards Per Game – UNC, 291.8 (26th) / S CAR, 238.1 (57th)

Rushing Yards Per Game – UNC, 193.8 (33rd) / S CAR, 138.5 (91st)

Points Against Per Game – UNC, 25.7 (53rd) / S CAR, 18.2 (13th)
Football season is back.

The 2013 College Football Season will kick off Thursday night on ESPN with a matchup between North Carolina and South Carolina, which will be the first of four games in the first two weeks that pits the ACC and SEC against each other. South Carolina has the edge, being able to play this one at home in the comfortable confines of Brice-Williams Stadium.

And, if there was any doubt, the Gamecocks will fill this place to the brim on Thursday night, and over 80,000 will show up eager to see their favorite player, Jadaveon Clowney.

By now Clowney needs no entrance, but Clowney will not be fighting for a Heisman trophy but a chance to keep their national championship hopes alive versus the Tarheels.

South Carolina will likely start senior quarterback Connor Shaw, who will have his way with an anemic North Carolina pass defense. Ace Sanders and Marcus Lattimore may be gone, but junior Damiere Byrd will step up as the team’s number one receiver.

For the Tarheels, the major storyline on offense will be senior QB Bryn Renner, who will have some reliable targets to contest the South Carolina pass defense. Wide receiver Quinshad Davis and tight end Eric Ebron will his favorites, who totaled over 100 catches and 1500 yards in 2012. If UNC wants to win this game, Renner will have to prove his capability against a SEC defense, something he has not done in his tenure in Chapel Hill.

The matchup to watch in this game will be North Carolina left tackle James, who will be blocking against the premier pass rusher in the country, Jadaveon Clowney. Clowney singlehandedly ruined a quarterback’s day in many games last year, and he will look to do the same as a junior in this game. But if North Carolina’s James Hurst can do the seeming-impossible task of shutting him down, then Renner could have a field day with his offense and pull off the upset for the Tarheels.

At the end of the day, South Carolina is in the SEC, and have the bigger, faster, and stronger players. North Carolina will continue to improve as a football program under second-year head coach Larry Fedora, but Spurrier and the Gamecocks will take this one, 28-20.

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