Drake Maye, No. 17 UNC head to Pitt looking for the program's first 4-0 start since 1997

Thu, Sep 21, 2023

Drake Maye, No. 17 UNC head to Pitt looking for the program's first 4-0 start since 1997

No. 17 North Carolina (3-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) at Pittsburgh (1-2, 0-0), Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (ACC Network)

Line: North Carolina by 7 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: UNC leads 11-5.


Other news UNC QB Drake Maye's confidence is soaring as the 17th-ranked Tar Heels visit struggling Pitt No. 4 Florida State at Clemson and No. 17 North Carolina at Pitt headline Week 4 in ACC Pitt planning to stick with struggling QB Phil Jurkovec ahead of visit from No. 17 North Carolina

North Carolina is trying for its first 4-0 start since 1997, which was the final season of Mack Brown's first tenure in Chapel Hill. The Panthers are hoping to avoid their first 1-3 start since 2017, the program's only losing season in Pat Narduzzi's eight-plus-year tenure.


UNC QB Drake Maye vs. Pitt's secondary. The Panthers love to blitz, one of the reasons they are annually among the national leaders in sacks. That strategy often leaves the cornerbacks in one-on-one coverage. If May has time to throw, there could be big plays made down the field.


UNC: WR Nate McCollum. The Georgia Tech transfer fell one catch shy of tying the program's single-game record against Minnesota, finishing with 15 catches for 165 yards and a 46-yard touchdown. Before that, he had missed the season opener against South Carolina due to an injury, then saw only limited snaps in working his way back against Appalachian State.

Pittsburgh: QB Phil Jurkovec. The redshirt senior's homecoming season is off to a nightmarish start. He's completing just 46% (35 of 75) of his passes and threw three interceptions in last week's loss to rival West Virginia, two of which the Mountaineers turned into points. Narduzzi reiterated this week he still has faith in Jurkovec. That could be tested if he gets off to another slow start in a stadium where he was booed during a loss to Cincinnati on Sept. 9.


UNC has reached 3-0 for the third time in four seasons. ... Pitt has won the last two meetings at home, both in overtime ( 2019, 2021 ). ... The Tar Heels are one of four teams in the Bowl Subdivision ranks with a pair of nonconference wins against Power Five teams after beating South Carolina from the Southeastern Conference and Minnesota from the Big Ten last week. ... UNC is second in FBS in converting third downs at 65.1% (28 of 43) after going 12 of 17 against a Minnesota defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in total and scoring defense. ... The Tar Heels had nine sacks in the South Carolina win but have had just one since. ... The Panthers have beaten at least one ranked opponent in each of the last seven seasons. ... Jurkovec entered this week as the 102nd-ranked passer in the FBS. His 81-yard passing total against the Mountaineers was the fewest by a Pitt QB since Kenny Pickett managed just 8 in a loss to Clemson in the 2018 ACC title game. ... The Panthers lead the ACC in total defense (236 yards per game) and are fifth nationally. ... The series has been high-scoring, which could favor the Tar Heels given Pitt's offensive struggles. The winning team has scored at least 30 points in the nine meetings since the Panthers joined the ACC in 2013. ... Pitt is still waiting for one of its three "starting" running backs - Rodney Hammond, Vincent Davis and C'Bo Flemister - to emerge. None of them have managed more than 65 yards in a game so far this season.


AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

Article Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.