No. 1 Clemson will be on the road for just the second time this season when they face Mack Brown and North Carolina on Saturday in an ACC clash. The Tigers are fresh off a comfortable 52-10 win against Charlotte at home that saw Dabo Swinney and his staff call on 110 individuals to take the field and contribute to the victory. There's depth, and then there's Clemson depth.
North Carolina welcomes the Tigers after its second straight loss, this one coming to Appalachian State in the final moments of a close and competitive game. The Tar Heels have been in every single game down TO the final possessions, winning against South Carolina and Miami but coming up short against Wake Forest and Appalachian State. This team could be 4-0 with a few better bounces, but it could also be 0-4 with a few bad bounces. Mack Brown discussed the thin line North Carolina is toeing and the .
"What I expect of our players is start living up to a standard for us," Brown said. "We can't play South Carolina any different than we play Clemson. We can't play Appalachian any different than we play Clemson. What we need to do is worry about us, and that way you don't play up and down to the opponent each week."
Clemson: Four weeks into the season and Trevor Lawrence has not popped up in the conversation as often as we thought he might following his performance in the College Football Playoff. Those close to Clemson are not overly concerned, and we probably shouldn't be either, that Lawrence leads the ACC in interceptions, but this Tigers offense has made a bigger splash because of wide receivers Justyn Ross, Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers. The interceptions clearly haven't prevented Clemson from winning comfortably and some probably come with an aggressive mentality that helps produce those highlight-reel grabs for Ross and Higgins. But if there's a talking point around this juggernaut currently blitzing its way past ACC competition, it's been waiting for a Lawrence takeover game.
North Carolina: Which team is North Carolina? Is it the team that can close out wins against South Carolina and Miami or is the team that falls asleep for quarters at a time and at crucial moments against Wake Forest and Appalachian State. Clemson provides such an imposing test that the storylines and expectations are tied much closer to how the team responds and whether the game is competitive. Sam Howell gives North Carolina a chance to string together some scoring drives if the game is close, but the question is how long the game will be close. Big picture, there is no panic for the Tar Heels at 2-2 even if it has come in an uneven manner, but showing up and playing well against the No. 1 team in the country could lay ground work for more success as they get into the thick of ACC play.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 28 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Kenan Memorial Stadium -- Chapel Hill, N.C.
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
If you look at Clemson's remaining schedule, there is a likelihood that it will be favored by at least two touchdowns in every game. So if we're going to pick out the spots where the Tigers might get caught in one of those "this game is way closer than it should be" moments this Saturday in Chapel Hill looks pretty good. We've seen the Tar Heels be volatile, but that could work in their favor with the champs in town as heavy favorites. Pick: North Carolina (+26.5)
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