This season, pick who you think will win the Champs Sports Bowl Game of the Week and WIN! Answer the question on the Champs Sports Bowl Facebook page before Saturday’s game. If you pick correctly, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to the Champs Sports Bowl on December 29, 2011!
Rutgers leads series 3-2 (last meeting: Sept. 25, 2010: North Carolina 17, Rutgers 13)
Week two of the college football season picks up significantly for both Rutgers and North Carolina as the schools face off in a Big East-ACC battle. Both teams opened the 2011 campaign against non-BCS programs and cruised to lopsided victories. UNC is a popular pick for this year’s Champs Sports Bowl after a stunning double-overtime win against Tennessee in last season’s Music City Bowl. Rutgers, returning 17 starters from a year ago, could be a surprise in the Big East.
It’s a new era for North Carolina after the departure of head coach Butch Davis following a series of NCAA infractions. The polarizing Davis is replaced by defensive coordinator Everett Withers. Withers isn’t the only new face to Tar Heel fans. Heralded sophomore Bryn Renner replaces four-year starter T.J. Yates at quarterback. Renner completed a stellar 96 percent of his passes in his debut against James Madison, throwing for 277 yards and two scores. The Virginia native also recorded a rushing touchdown in the week-one blowout.
The Scarlet Knights are also led by a sophomore signal caller, Chas Dodd, who begins his first full season as starter. Dodd should have some weapons around him, led by preseason All-Big East receiver Mohamed Sanu. Mega-recruit Savon Huggins, New Jersey’s number-one high school player from a year ago, looks to contribute early at running back for a veteran offense.
The Tar Heels and Scarlet Knights have faced off three times in the past five seasons, with UNC winning the previous two contests. Last year’s matchup in Piscataway proved to be very competitive as it took a late fourth quarter interception to seal the 17-13 win for North Carolina. With each team slated to face only one currently ranked opponent the rest of the season, a non-conference victory against a BCS opponent would be significant.
Extra Points: UNC’s Renner fell just shy of setting the NCAA mark for completion percentage against James Madison last week. His 95.7 percent was just a fraction behind the current record of 95.8 percent, set by Tennessee’s Tee Martin in 1998 (min. 20 completions).