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Oldest Rivalry in the South

orangekoolaidThis weekend marks the 114th meeting of Virginia and North Carolina, making this the South's oldest rivalry and the fifth-longest running series in the FBS. UVA leads the series, 57-52-4, and crushed Carolina's dreams last year, topping the No. 18 Heels 16-13 in overtime. Can I get a booyah?

What are we looking at this year? Well, if you're in the Groh-Must-Go camp, you're hoping that I make a 31-7 kind of prediction. OK who am I kidding? You guys don't care what my prediction is, right? Well in any event, I'm going to go ahead and say it. I smell an upset here, on the road, making us 1-0 in the ACC. And yes, my new case of orange kool-aid just arrived. I'm going to go ahead and say it'll be a 27-24 Virginia victory. Why do I say this? The Numbers Don't Lie.

  1. Virginia has won nine out of the past eleven matchups. That's a lot. I'm not great at math, but I think that comes out to be about 99% of the matchups. Am I right here? Can someone check my math on this?
  2. Virginia is batting 1.000 at converting red zone trips. That's right. That is tied for first in the nation. I think this is a key stat to focus on folks. Some of the other media may try to make you believe that another important stat is that the Cavaliers have only reached the red zone five times this year -- last in the nation. But I don't see why that matters at all. As Coach Al Groh says, "We are remaining positive."
  3. Okay okay. How about a legitimate statistic to play with. Virginia is 14th in the country in third-down defense, with opponents converting a mere 12 out of 45 (26.7%) third downs. Compare this with UNC, who is 106th in the country at 15 of 51 (29.4%).
  4. Here's the last little Numbers Don't Lie for the day. Throughout his nine years here, Groh's teams are 9-4 after bye weeks.

All I can say is, it's in the bag, baby. This should be an interesting game. You saw two weeks ago that Groh has tossed out most of OC Gregg Brandon's renowned spread offense and gone back to the tried-and-only-kinda-true pro-style offense. With a bye week in between, it'll certainly be interesting to see what kind of offense we'll see tomorrow. With any luck, it will be Virginia offense, and not UNC's.

One last interesting piece going into this. Did you know that the Hoos are ranked 120th out of -- you guessed it -- 120 FBS teams in kickoff return defense? That is terrible, guys. We can do better!