GAME: UNC, 6 p.m., Thursday
RECORD: 8-4 in 2012
SERIES: UNC leads 34-17-4
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LAST YEAR: The teams haven’t played since the 2007 season, when Gamecocks won 21-15 in Chapel Hill. Redshirt freshman Chris Smelley threw a career-high three touchdown passes in the first half for a 21-3 lead, and USC held on for the victory as UNC tried to rally with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Smelley, who threw for 172 yards, completed his scoring passes went to Dion LeCorn, Kenny McKinley and Jared Cook. Tailback Cory Boyd rushed for 95 yards for the Gamecocks, who improved to 6-1 on the season at the time.
COACH: Larry Fedora. In his second season after coming over from Southern Mississippi, where he was the head coach for four seasons, Fedora has compiled an overall record of 42-23. His teams are known for their high-powered, fast-paced offenses, and the 2012 Tar Heels were no exception, as they racked up 35 school offensive records, won eight games and tied for first in the ACC’s Coastal Division. His 2010 Southern Miss team lost to USC 41-13 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
QUICK TAKE: UNC hasn’t played at Williams-Brice Stadium since the 1990 season, when the Gamecocks won 27-5. Needless to say, both programs do not resemble the ones led by Mack Brown and Sparky Woods during that era. USC enters this season as the nation’s No. 6 team, while the Tar Heels are among the others receiving votes. This matchup will be showcased on ESPN to kick off the college football season. It’s one of three games between the SEC and ACC on the opening weekend. Georgia plays Clemson and Alabama plays Virginia Tech in the other two.
RAM JAMS: The Tar Heels set single-season marks for total points (487), points per game (40.6), total offense (5,827 yards) and total offense per game (485.6 yards) a year ago. UNC has won eight games in four of the last five seasons. The Tar Heels have had six first-round NFL draft picks since 2008, the most in the ACC. UNC kickers have made 176 consecutive extra-point attempts, which is the third-longest streak in the country behind Texas Tech (215) and Washington (178). The Tar Heels, who picked off 16 passes last season, returns all four starters in the secondary.
TAR HEELS TO WATCH
QB BRYN RENNER: The 6-3, 225-pound senior completed 276 of 422 passes for 3,356 yards and a single-season school record 28 touchdowns. With six 300-yard passing games in his career, the most of any quarterback in UNC history, he needs 14 touchdown passes to match the career school record of 68.
DE KAREEM MARTIN: The 6-6, 265-pound senior made 40 tackles -- 15.5 for loss with four sacks -- last season and headlines the defense as a preseason All-ACC choice.
WR QUINSHAD DAVIS: The 6-4, 205-pound sophomore, who’s a Gaffney native, set freshman school records with 61 receptions for 776 yards.
P TOMMY HIBBARD: The 5-10, 190-pound junior averaged 43 yards per punt last season, good for second in the ACC and 25th in the nation.