North Carolina (0-2, 0-1 ACC) plays its first road game and second consecutive non-conference contest of the 2003 season on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Big Ten conference foe Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0). The game will be televised nationally by ESPN at Noon (EST).
Carolina opened the season with back-to-back home losses, including a 37-0 shutout loss to FSU, and a disappointing triple-overtime loss to Syracuse on Sept. 6. Carolina did not play last weekend (Sept. 13). The Wisconsin game is the first of 10 straight games for the Tar Heels who play at NC State and at home against Virginia after returning from Madison.
Wisconsin is coming off a 23-5 home loss to UNLV.
Carolina is making its first visit to Camp Randall and is facing a Big Ten opponent for the first time since beating Indiana in 1999. UNC and Wisconsin will complete a home-and-home series in 2005 when the Badgers visit Chapel Hill on September 17.
UNC-WISCONSIN/BIG TEN NOTES
* Carolina and Wisconsin are meeting for the first time in school history on Saturday.
* Carolina is 11-6-0 against teams in the Big Ten.
* The last time Carolina played a Big Ten opponent was in 1999 when UNC beat Indiana, 42-30, in Bloomington.
* The last time Carolina played a Big Ten team ranked in the Top 25 was in 1979 when UNC beat #14 Michigan, 17-15, in the Gator Bowl. The unranked Tar Heels, behind the running of Amos Lawrence and passing of Matt Kupec, trailed 9-0 but rallied to post 17 straight points. Lawrence rushed for 118 yards on 23 carries and Kupec was 18 of 28 for 161 yards and one touchdown. Both were named co-Most Valuable Players.
* Carolina place-kicker Dan Orner played two years at Michigan State, but never kicked for the Spartans and transferred to North Carolina in 2001. He sat out the 2001 season and earned the starting position in 2002. Last season, he connected on 9 of 12 field goal attempts and 26 of 27 point after attempts. He tied an NCAA record with three field goals of at least 50 yards in the 2002 win at Syracuse. This season, Orner is 2 of 4 in field goal attempts and has made all five extra points.
* Carolina assistant coaches Hal Hunter (Indiana), Andre' Powell (Indiana), Brad Lawing (Michigan State), Gary Tranquill (Ohio State, Michigan State) and James Webster (Northwestern) have all coached in the Big Ten. Powell and Hunter both played at Big Ten schools.
DURANT'S NUMBERS IMPRESSIVE
Junior quarterback Darian Durant ranks among the best quarterbacks in the nation and he is on pace to eclipse every North Carolina career passing record in 2003. Although Durant has started just 12 games in his career, he currently ranks first in career completion percentage (.619), first in career touchdowns (37), third in career passing yards (4,427), third in career completions (338) and fourth in career total offense (4,806). He is one of just four players in UNC history to throw for over 4,000 career yards and he reached the 4,000-yard mark faster than anyone in school history (21 games). No quarterback at UNC has ever passed for 5,000 career yards.
Durant enters the Wisconsin game ranked 10th in the country in passing, averaging 24.5 completions per game, and is 18th in the nation in total offense, averaging 275.5 yards per game. He leads the Tar Heels in both passing and rushing this season and has accounted for five of the Tar Heels' six touchdowns. He has thrown for at least 200 yards in eight of his last 10 games.
In the triple-overtime loss to Syracuse on Sept. 6, Durant broke the school record for career touchdown passes with his 36th TD in the third quarter. He finished the game 31 of 44 for 316 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His 31 completions tied the school record set by Kevin Anthony against LSU in 1985.
Durant's total offense (285.6) and passing yards per game (265.2) were tops in the ACC in 2002 despite missing four games with a broken thumb. He became the first Tar Heel to lead the ACC in total offense since Paul Miller in 1971.
Durant threw for a school-record 417 yards and five touchdowns against Arizona State in 2002. It was the first 400-yard game of his career and was the second-best game by an ACC quarterback in 2002. In 2001, he set freshmen single-season records for touchdown passes (17), completions (142), passing yards (1,843) and total offense (1,971).
NEWCOMERS SEE ACTION
Through the first two games of the 2003 season, Carolina has already played 11 true freshmen. Last season, the Tar Heels played just seven true freshmen all season. Eight true freshmen saw action in Carolina's season-opening loss to Florida State, including safety Kareen Taylor, linebacker Larry Edwards, linebacker Fred Sparkman, linebacker Melik Brown, tailback Ronnie McGill, wide receiver Adarius Bowman, wide receiver Mike Mason and wide receiver Jesse Holley. All eight played in the first half and seven played in the first quarter. Against Syracuse, defensive tackles Shelton Bynum and Isaiah Thomas and tight end Jon Hamlett saw their first career action.
Brown and McGill both enrolled at Carolina in January and participated in UNC's spring drills. Brown has started the first two games at outside linebacker, and McGill started at tailback against Syracuse. McGill led the team with 48 rushing yards on 12 carries against FSU, including a long run of 19 yards. Mason, a native of Rocky Mount, N.C., caught five passes for 25 yards against the Seminoles and is currently third on the team with seven catches for 74 yards and one touchdown. He caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in the loss to Syracuse.
A total of 20 newcomers have played in the first two games of the season. In addition to the 11 true freshmen, junior college transfer Lionell Green, junior walk-on tight end John Dunn, sophomore walk-on tight end Justin Phillips, sophomore offensive tackle Brian Chacos, sophomore offensive tackle Drew Hunter, redshirt freshman punter David Wooldridge, redshirt freshman defensive back D.J. Walker, redshirt freshman linebacker Victor Worsley and junior transfer running back Chad Scott have played for the first time this year.
In John Bunting's three seasons at Carolina, 24 true freshmen have seen playing time, including six in 2001, seven in 2002 and 11 in 2003.
THE BYE WEEK
Since 1995, Carolina has posted a 6-6 record following a bye week, including a 1-2 record under head coach John Bunting. Each of Bunting's losses have come to Georgia Tech. Last season, Carolina lost to Texas at home, had a bye week and then lost to the Yellow Jackets, 21-13, in Kenan Stadium. In 2001, Carolina's five-game winning streak ended after a 28-21 loss to Georgia Tech following a bye week.
THE BYE WEEK CONCERT
During last year's bye weekend, head coach John Bunting and his wife Dawn traveled to the northeast to take in a Rolling Stones concert at the First Union Center in Philadelphia and open a new Rams Club chapter in New York City.
This season, Bunting did not have to go nearly as far during the bye week to hear one of the music industry's legendary performers. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band appeared in a final area concert of their current World Tour at North Carolina's Kenan Stadium on Sunday, September 14. Bunting and his staff worked on Sunday, but it's worth noting that all of Carolina's football coaches' offices overlook the stadium playing field where Springsteen was performing.
The concert was the first major concert at Carolina's football stadium since the Carolina Concert for the Children in 1983 which featured Todd Rundgren, U2, The Producers and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The Springsteen concert in Chapel Hill was the only date in the Southeast on the current leg of his summer stadium tour.