Heels Kick Off 2013 With No. 6 Gamecocks
South Carolina enters the game ranked sixth in the country in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches poll. The Gamecocks are the highest-ranked team the Tar Heels have faced since playing at No. 5 Virginia Tech in 2005. It's the highest-ranked opponent in a season opener since No. 3 Oklahoma in 2001. The Tar Heels received three votes in the AP poll and 19 votes in the USA Today poll.
This will mark Carolina's 10th appearance in an ESPN Thursday night game. The Tar Heels are 6-4 in the previous 10 contests, including a 37-13 victory last year at Virginia. Only one of those nine previous appearances came at home.
AT A GLANCE
Records: North Carolina 0-0, South Carolina 0-0
Rankings: North Carolina is receiving votes in both the Associated Press Top 25 poll and the USA Today poll. South Carolina is ranked No. 6 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the USA Today poll.
TV: ESPN. Rece Davis (play-by-play), Jesse Palmer (analyst), David Pollack (analyst) and Samantha Ponder (sideline) have the call. A live broadcast is also available online at WatchESPN.com.
Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network, a division of Learfield Communications. Jones Angell (play-by-play), Rick Steinbacher (analyst) and Lee Pace (sideline) have the call. A link to the live stream can be found at GoHeels.com.
On The Web: GoHeels.com • Twitter: @TarHeelFootball, @CoachFedora
SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES NOTES
• Carolina leads the series with South Carolina, 34-17-4. The two schools met at least twice every decade from 1900-1980, including annual meetings while both were members of the ACC, but have met just three times since 1990. While members of the ACC (South Carolina left in 1971), the two schools played every year from 1953-70 with the exception of 1965 and 1966. In those 16 meetings as ACC opponents, Carolina won nine times.
• The last time these two institutions met in the season opener was 1988, Mack Brown's first game as UNC's head coach. The Gamecocks defeated the Tar Heels 31-10 in Columbia.
• The rivalry was renewed most recently in 2007 when Steve Spurrier's seventh-ranked Gamecocks beat the Tar Heels, 21-15, in Butch Davis' first year in Chapel Hill. Carolina trailed 21-3 after three quarters, but T.J. Yates rallied the Tar Heels with two fourth-quarter scores. UNC drove the ball to the South Carolina 31-yard line, but failed to convert on two pass attempts into the end zone.
• The Tar Heels and Gamecocks have agreed to meet on September 5, 2015, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
• This will be Larry Fedora's second trip to Columbia as a college head coach. In 2010, Fedora's Southern Miss squad lost 41-13 in the season opener. Fedora went 3-0 against South Carolina as an assistant at Florida (2002-04), including a win in Columbia in 2003.
• South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 4-0 against the Tar Heels, including three wins as head coach at Duke (1987-89) and one as head coach of the Gamecocks (2007).
• South Carolina assistant coaches Deke Adams (defensive line) and Joe Robinson (special teams coordinator) have been assistants recently at North Carolina. Adams came with Larry Fedora from Southern Miss and coached the defensive line last season before leaving for Columbia. Robinson was on the Tar Heels' 2011 coaching staff.
• Carolina's associate head coach for defense Vic Koenning was the defensive coordinator at Clemson from 2005-08 and went 3-1 against Spurrier's South Carolina club.
• Quarterback Bryn Renner has not thrown an interception in his last 91 attempts entering Thursday's South Carolina game.
• Renner had 28 touchdown passes in 2012, breaking his own school record of 26 set in 2011. Renner is the only player in UNC history to throw for 20 or more touchdowns in multiple seasons.
• Renner needs four touchdowns to tie T.J. Yates for second on the all-time UNC career chart with 58. Darian Durant is the career leader with 68.
• North Carolina must replace three starters on the offensive line who were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft - OG Jonathan Cooper, OT Brennan Williams and OG Travis Bond. Slated to fill those spots are OG Caleb Peterson, OG Landon Turner and OT Jon Heck.
• North Carolina has posted five consecutive winning seasons, the most since the 1990s when the Tar Heels had nine straight winning seasons from 1990-98.
• UNC averaged 48.7 points per game at home in 2012, including two games with more than 60 points.
• Carolina averaged 485.6 yards per game in 2012, which was more than 40 yards per game more than the single-season school record of 441.8 in 1983.
• Carolina ranked third in the country in tackles for loss with 8.1 per game. DE Kareem Martin (15.5) was 23rd in the country with 1.29 per game.
• TE Eric Ebron set UNC's single-season school record for catches (40) and yards (625) by a tight end.
• Carolina led the ACC and was ninth in the nation in sacks allowed per game (0.9) in 2012.
• Carolina ranked first in the ACC and 20th in the country with 16 interceptions last year. Eight different players had at least one interception, and the Tar Heels returned an interception for a touchdown in back-to-back games against Georgia Tech and Virginia.