When folks around here think of the number 23, they often start thinking about basketball great Michael Jordan.
I am thinking about 23 for a different reason today, however: That s the number of wins Clemson (12-0) and North Carolina (11-1) have combined for entering this ACC title game.
It’s a staggering number for an ACC championship game and, not surprisingly, the most in the 11-year history of the contest. Other than North Carolina’s nasty stumble in the season opener against a bad South Carolina team, these two squads have been perfect.
▪ For some fans, Saturday night will be a rowdy celebration. For others, it’s just going to be cold. If you are going, bundle up. The 8 p.m. kickoff means the temperature will hover around the low 30s for much of the night.
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▪ My over-under on the exact time this game finishes is 11:40 p.m. These two teams run so many plays – and I expect so much scoring – that a tidy three-hour game is out of the question.
▪ For my money, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and UNC’s Marquise Williams have been the ACC’s best two players all season. To watch those quarterbacks alternate possessions in a game that will decide the 2015 ACC championship is a thrilling opportunity.
▪ OK, prediction time. In 2014, Clemson beat UNC 50-35, back when the Tar Heels hadn’t hired Gene Chizik as their defensive coordinator and didn’t have a clue about how to play defense. Almost forgotten about that game – UNC also was penalized 15 times for 130 yards. The Tar Heels didn’t play well and weren’t smart about it, either.
UNC will be better, and I don’t expect a Clemson blowout because the Tar Heels can score, too. But Clemson is No. 1 in the country for a reason, and ultimately I think there’s a little more talent on that side of the ball. My pick: Clemson 37, UNC 30.
Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @scott_fowler