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The Daily Tar Heel

Special Teams Could Decide Game

Game and time

Records: Virginia is 3-2, 2-1 in the ACC. North Carolina is 3-3, 2-1.

Series: North Carolina leads, 55-46-4.

Personnel: Virginia -- LB Rich Bedesem (knee injury) is out for the season; RB Antwoine Womack (ankle injury) is out for the season. North Carolina -- SS DeFonte Coleman (dislocated left shoulder) is out; FB Richard Moore (sprained MCL) is probable; C Adam Metts (left shoulder strain) is probable; DT Will Chapman (stress reaction in right fibula) is questionable.

Key matchup: In a matchup between two teams that boast the oldest rivalry in the South, special teams could decide who walks away with a third conference win.

"This will be, in my opinion, the fiercest special teams we've played to date," UNC coach John Bunting said. "They're awesome; they really get after it."

Field position has been critical for the Tar Heels all season long, and this game should be no different. In the last three games, all wins, UNC has had much better field position than it did in its first three games, all losses.

Although Virginia hasn't posted stellar numbers in the punting department -- the Cavaliers average 39.1 yards per game -- if punter Mike Abrams can stuff the ball down UNC's throat even half as often as Maryland's Brooks Barnard did, the Tar Heels could be in trouble.

Punt returner Bosley Allen hasn't lived up to his potential so far this season, averaging 10.5 yards for punt returns this season. Allen needs to put QBs Ronald Curry and Darian Durant in the most optimal position possible for UNC to be successful.

Final Analysis/Results: Defeating Florida State on Sept. 22 was an especially sweet victory for all the Tar Heel seniors, but there is one more rivalry they'd really like to get the upper hand on. None of UNC's seniors have won against UVa., a team usually comparable to the Tar Heels.

"This is a very important ACC game," Curry said. "We haven't beaten them in four years, so there is more at stake."

And for Curry, he admits there's even more at stake. Curry has been the focal point of Virginia fans' wrath in the last three years because he backed out of an oral commitment to play for the Cavaliers so he could be a Tar Heel.

"This game will be a turning point in our season," wideout Kory Bailey said. "(Curry), and all of us, really want to perform well. He chose UNC over UVa., and we haven't beaten them. We want to get this win for him. Especially being a receiver, I have more of a way to help him do that, as long as he puts the ball in the general area." Bailey has made nine catches for 95 yards and scored three touchdowns this season, and any help he can give Curry to alleviate the pressure would be much appreciated.

Curry received boos from the hometown crowd during last week's game against ECU. With the Cavalier faithful in town, Kenan Stadium could become even more of a hostile environment for UNC's starting quarterback. He'll need to ignore it and perform under fire if he wants to finally get a `W' against the Cavs.

North Carolina 21, Virginia 13

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