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Game Day Central: No. 23 North Carolina
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Liberty Football Game Notes:
Liberty vs. North Carolina
First and 10 – Saturday's Top Storylines
1. Turner Gill begins his third season as Liberty's head coach, after leading the Flames a pair of Big South Conference titles during his first two years at the helm. (See page 2 of game notes for more information on Gill.)
2. Saturday's game will be the Flames' first-ever gridiron matchup with North Carolina and the first time Liberty has ever faced a nationally ranked FBS foe. (See page 3 of game notes for more information on the matchup.)
3. Liberty passing game coordinator Joe Dailey played quarterback for North Carolina in 2006, while the grandfather of junior tight end Garrett Long was the Tar Heels' signal caller in the early 1950s. (See page 3 of game notes for more on the Liberty-North Carolina connections.)
4. Liberty, which has captured six Big South Conference championships in the last seven years, is picked to finish second in the conference in 2014. (See page 4 of game notes for Big South Conference information.)
5. Senior cornerback Kenny Scott is one tackle shy of 100 for his career entering the North Carolina game. (See page 4 of game notes for other Flames milestones within reach on Saturday.)
6. The @LibertyFootball team owns FBS victories over @EMUFB and @BallStateFB in program history. (See page 4 of game notes for other tweetable notes about Saturday's game.)
7. Liberty closed out the 2013 season with five straight victories. (See page 5 of game notes for other team streaks and trends entering the 2014 campaign.)
8. Desmond Rice, the Flames' top running back in 2013, will miss the entire 2014 season after undergoing offseason knee surgery. (See page 9 of game notes for a weekly injury update.)
9. Junior Josh Woodrum is already climbing numerous Liberty career lists as he enters his third season as Liberty's starting quarterback, as seen on page 9 of game notes.
10. Kicker Avery Echols and safety Avery "A.J." James are the true freshmen most likely to see playing time for the Flames on Saturday. (See page 11 of game notes for the complete depth chart.)
"4 Downs" with the Tar Heels
1. Saturday's game will mark Liberty's first-ever gridiron matchup with North Carolina, as well as the Flames' first-ever matchup against a nationally ranked FBS foe. The Tar Heels enter the contest ranked No. 23 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls.
2. Liberty has defeated two FBS opponents in program history. The Flames recorded a 25-24 win at Eastern Michigan on Oct. 14, 1989 and a 27-23 triumph at Ball State on Sept. 11, 2010.
3. This marks the third time in four seasons that the Flames have kicked off the year with a road game against an ACC opponent. Liberty played at N.C. State to open the 2011 campaign and traveled to Wake Forest for the 2012 lid-lifter, which was Turner Gill's first game as the Flames' head coach.
4. Saturday will be Liberty's fourth all-time matchup against an ACC opponent. The Flames have faced Wake Forest twice (2006 and 2012) and N.C. State once (2011), dropping all three matchups.
1. Kenny Scott needs one more tackle to reach 100 for his career. He would join Nick Sigmon (174) and Jacob Hagen (137) as active Flames with 100 or more career stops.
1. Nick Sigmon is one tackle for a loss shy of 30 for his career. The senior linebacker is also nearing Liberty's career top five in the category. Rodney Degrate (1994-96) currently ranks fifth in program history with 34 tackles for a loss.
1. Chima Uzowihe needs one sack to reach 10 for his career.
2. Jacob Hagen needs two interceptions to enter the Flames' career top five list. With seven career picks, Hagen is chasing former teammate Kevin Fogg (2009-13), who finished his career in fifth place at Liberty with nine interceptions.
115. Darrin Peterson is 115 receiving yards shy of 1,000 for his career. His career high of 124 yards came against Monmouth on Sept. 7, 2013.
A Liberty Win Would ...
• Mark the Flames' first-ever victory over a nationally ranked FBS opponent.
• Serve as Liberty's first win over an ACC opponent in program history.
• Mark Liberty's third win against an FBS foe, following victories over Eastern Michigan (25-24 in 1989) and Ball State (27-23 in 2010).
• Give Liberty a season-opening win for the first time since 2010, when the Flames posted a 52-7 home victory over Saint Francis (Pa.) at City Stadium. Liberty has dropped four of its last five season lid-lifters, with all four setbacks coming on the road against FBS opponents.
• Be the first time the Flames have won a season opener away from Lynchburg since 1988, which was Liberty's first year as an NCAA 1-AA program. That year, the Flames started the season with a 17-7 triumph at Edinboro.
• Extend Liberty's road winning streak to three and overall winning streak to six. The Flames won their last two road games of 2013 and closed the season with five straight wins overall.
• Be Liberty's second win ever over North Carolina in any sport. The baseball team defeated the Tar Heels by a 5-3 count on April 18, 2012.