WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – North Carolina travels to Wake Forest on Friday in a matchup of two teams who have benefited from hot starts from their quarterbacks through the first two weeks of the season. Wake Forest junior Jamie Newman has completed 74.3 percent of his passes while throwing for an ACC-high 713 yards and shares the league lead with six touchdowns, while Tar Heels freshman Sam Howell has passed for four scores and 519 yards while directing four-quarter comebacks in each of his first two contests.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Wake Forest -3
Howell, the first true freshman to start a season at quarterback for North Carolina, completed 4-of-5 passes for 46 yards on the game-winning drive last week, hitting junior receiver Dazz Newsome on a 10-yard touchdown with 1:01 to play in a 28-25 victory over Miami. "I just have confidence in myself," Howell told reporters after finishing 16-for-24 for 274 yards and two touchdowns in his second collegiate game. "I have confidence in all 10 guys on the field with me. This is what we do." Newman, who won a quarterback battle in training camp after starting the final four games a season ago, finished 21-for-27 passing for 312 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 41-21 triumph at Rice as the Demon Deacons finished 7-for-14 on third down. "No matter what the scoreboard says, we take everything play-by-play," Newman told reporters afterward. "Next-play mentality. We just have to keep going every series."
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (2-0)
Howell has won back-to-back ACC rookie of the week awards, but he has received help from sophomore running back Javonte Williams, who ranks sixth in the ACC in rushing per game (89 yards) through two games and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Sophomore receiver Dyami Brown caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown, and in total eight receivers caught at least one pass. Junior defensive lineman Tomon Fox recorded a career-high three sacks to go with six tackles against Miami, earning league defensive lineman of the week honors.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (2-0)
The Demon Deacons offense has recorded 500-plus yards of total offense in four consecutive games (dating to last season), matching a school record. Senior receiver Scotty Washington finished with a career-high 158 yards on seven catches against Rice, while freshman running back Kenneth Walker rushed for a career-best 125 yards – including the longest play from scrimmage in program history: a 96-yard touchdown run. Junior defensive back Traveon Reed recorded eight tackles, including one of four Wake Forest sacks.
1. North Carolina senior CB Patrice Rene suffered a torn ACL against Miami and will miss the rest of the season, while senior C Nick Polino is out indefinitely with a lower back injury.
2. Wake Forest rushed for 201 yards against Miami, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
3. Even though both teams are in the ACC, Friday's game will not count in the conference standings.
PREDICTION: Wake Forest 34, North Carolina 28