South Carolina and North Carolina will face off in the inaugural Belk College Kickoff on Thursday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
▪ WHO: South Carolina (0-0) vs. North Carolina (0-0)
▪ WHERE: Bank of America Stadium (73,778)
▪ WHEN: 6:01 p.m. Thursday
▪ TV: ESPN (Joe Tessitore, play-by-play; Jesse Palmer and David Pollack, analysis; Kaylee Hartung, sideline)
▪ RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 (Todd Ellis, Tommy Suggs and Langston Moore)
▪ SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 84/XM 84
▪ LINE: USC by 2.5
▪ SERIES RECORD: This will mark the 57th meeting between the two schools. UNC leads 34-18-4 (Tar Heels lead 2-0 at neutral sites).
▪ STREAKS: USC has won two straight in the series, including 27-10 in 2013. Steve Spurrier is 5-0 vs. UNC, while Larry Fedora is 0-2 vs. USC.
▪ FOR STARTERS: South Carolina is 80-37-4 (.678) in 121 season openers. Head coach Steve Spurrier is 23-2 all-time in season openers as a collegiate head coach and 9-1 in season openers at South Carolina.
▪ JERSEY REPORT: USC will wear garnet jerseys and white pants (UNC will wear blue jerseys and white pants)
GOING TO THE GAME? THINGS TO KNOW
1. The daytime high temperature will be around 90-92, with partly cloudy conditions in the evening and an overnight low around 72.
2. The Belk College Kickoff Game FanFest will take place from noon to 5 p.m. along Mint Street and in the Charlotte Observer parking lot (located across the street from Bank of America stadium at the corner of Stonewall and Mint streets.) The event will feature food trucks, live music, mascot appearances and more.
3. There are more than 30,000 parking spaces located within five blocks of Bank of America Stadium, but Charlotte also has public transportation options to consider. More details here.
4. Alcohol sales will take place at the stadium and will be discontinued at the end of the third quarter. More details here on alcohol and other stadium policies.
REMEMBER THE NINE
South Carolina will wear a specially designed helmet sticker during all 12 regular season games this year to honor the “Emanuel 9” victims of the Charleston tragedy. The sticker will feature nine doves flying from the trunk of a Palmetto tree. The design was submitted by Mount Pleasant artist Gil Shuler.
THREE GAME STORYLINES
1. South Carolina has gotten the best of this border battle of late, winning five of the last six. This year will be extra special for Gamecocks wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, who was upset by an incident during his recruitment by his home state Tar Heels. Quarterback Connor Mitch also is a North Carolina native.
2. First one to 100 wins. As bad as South Carolina’s defense was last year (94th in the nation), it wasn’t nearly as bad as North Carolina’s. The Tar Heels were No. 120 in the nation in total defense. Both schools hired new defensive coordinators, and a lot of focus will be on the Gamecocks’ Jon Hoke and Tar Heels’ Gene Chizik.
3. Both of these teams need a confidence boost. The Gamecocks, 7-6 last season, are out to prove to everyone, including themselves, that last season wasn’t the end of their run. The Heels, 6-7 last year, are wondering if their run ever will start under fourth-year coach Larry Fedora.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH - UNC
1. Quarterback Marquise Williams, who led the Tar Heels in passing (3,068 yards) and rushing (788 yards) last year.
2. Wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who caught 61 passes for 757 yards and had 37 returns for 172 yards. .
3. Cornerback Brian Walker, who led UNC with three interceptions.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH - USC
1. Quarterback Connor Mitch, who makes his first career start.
2. Defensive end Marquavius Lewis, a talented junior college transfer who makes his USC debut.
3. Wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, who will try to duplicate or top his big 2014 season.
The Gamecocks’ roster features seven players who played high school ball in North Carolina. They include Isaiah Johnson (Cary), Larenz Bryant (Charlotte), Abu Lamin (Fayetteville), Devin Potter (Granite Falls), Clayton Stadnik (Greensboro), Pharoh Cooper (Havelock), and Connor Mitch (Raleigh). In addition, defensive line coach Deke Adams coached at UNC in 2012.
Scholarship Tar Heels from South Carolina are senior wide receiver Quinshad Davis from Gaffney, true freshman linebacker Johnathan Sutton from Swansea and true freshman running back Ty’Son Williams of Sumter.
UNC wide receiver Jordan Fieulleteau and USC quarterback Connor Mitch played on the same Wakefield High School team in Raleigh. Fieulleteau was Mitch’s favorite target as a senior, catching 111 passes for 1,669 yards and 25 touchdowns.
ROSTERS, DEPTH CHARTS
South Carolina’s projected depth chart
WR – SAMUEL (Jeffery, Neal)
WR – P. COOPER (Belton, Washington)
WR – HEARD (Googer, Christian)
LT – SHELL (Pellage)
LG – MATULIS (Bailey)
C – KNOTT (Waldrop)
RG – SPORT (Stanley)
RT – ZANDI (Camper)
TE – ADAMS (Hurst, Markway, Crosby)
QB – MITCH (Orth, Scarnecchia, Nunez)
FB – BEDENBAUGH (Gist)
TB – WILDS (Da. Williams, Carson)
DE – C. COOPER (D. Johnson, Dixon)
DT – SAWYER (Stallworth, Griffin, Jones)
NT – DIXON JR. (Dukes, Lamin)
DE – LEWIS (English, Whitlow)
MLB – MOORE (Holloman)
WLB – WALTON (Allen-Williams)
SLB – BRYANT (Hawkins)
SPUR – GURLEY (Sasser, Boyd)
LCB – ELDER (Lammons)
FS – I. JOHNSON (Moody)
SS – DIGGS (D. Smith)
RCB – MCWILLIAMS (Harris)
KO – ARD (Fry)
PK – FRY (Ard)
P – KELLY (Almond)
KR – CARSON (Samuel)
PR – P. COOPER (Lammons)
LSN – DR. WILLIAMS (McGriff)
H – KELLY (Ard)