CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The last time North Carolina defeated South Carolina, Mack Brown was its coach. Brown hopes to begin his second stint with the Tar Heels with another win over the Gamecocks on Saturday in Charlotte, NC.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: South Carolina -10
The Gamecocks have won three straight meetings and six of the last seven, most recently taking a 17-13 decision in Charlotte to open the 2015 season. North Carolina's last victory came in 1991, when Brown was in the midst of his first 10-year run with the program. His return to the sideline will come with a familiar face across the field, as South Carolina coach Will Muschamp served as Brown's defensive coordinator at Texas from 2008-10. Muschamp's team is opening in Charlotte for the fourth time since 2011, and the Gamecocks have won the first three.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (2018: 7-6)
The Gamecocks returned seven starters on each side of the ball, including senior quarterback Jake Bentley and three of their top four receivers. Bentley passed for 3,171 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, and although he lost Deebo Samuel, fellow receiver Bryan Edwards (846 yards) is back. The defense returns several standouts, including linebacker T.J. Brunson (106 tackles, four sacks) and defensive end Javon Kinlaw (4.5 sacks).
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (2018: 2-9)
The Tar Heels hope Brown, whose 244 career victories are the most among active coaches, can turn things around after a two-win season. Freshman Sam Howell was named the starting quarterback on Monday and will be able to lean on experienced running backs Michael Carter and Antonio Williams, who combined for more than 1,100 rushing yards last season. The Tar Heels lost the top three tacklers from a defense that allowed 35 points per game last campaign, but they do have most of their secondary back.
1. South Carolina has won 18 of its last 19 season openers, including 14 straight against non-conference opponents.
2. The Tar Heels have not won a season opener since 2014 and haven't begun a campaign with a win over a Power Five opponent since 1997.
3. The Gamecocks have won 10 consecutive games against teams from North Carolina.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 34, North Carolina 17