WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- No need to inform coach Jim Caldwell that Wake Forest has an eight-game losing streak against North Carolina and hasn't beaten the Tar Heels in Groves Stadium in a decade.
Caldwell was on the job a mere four hours after being hired in 1993 when he was reminded of the importance of beating North Carolina by Julie Griffin, the director of the school's varsity club.
"On Jan. 4 she walked into my office to explain to me the rivalry between the two schools and that was quite a few months before we had an opportunity to play them," Caldwell said. "It is a game that our alumni talk about frequently."
It is also a game in which the Demon Deacons (3-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have been whipped by the combined score of 156-25 the last four times out.
The winner this time will still harbor hopes of the postseason, while the loser likely faces an uphill battle for a bowl berth.
"We're right there on the razor's edge," said Caldwell. "We just have to keep fighting to see if we can reach our goal of having a winning season."
Both clubs have a pair of three-point losses, and both coaches consider this a crossroads game.
"They've had a season very similar to ours in that they've lost a couple of games that they felt like they could have won or should have won," said North Carolina coach Carl Torbush. "We know we'll face a Wake Forest team that is very, very dangerous. They are just like us as far as the ACC race, both of us need to win it very badly."
Two-sport freshman Ronald Curry will be back under center again Saturday for the Tar Heels (2-3, 1-1), this time not to relieve the injured Oscar Davenport but to spell the suspended senior quarterback.
North Carolina, which lost its first three games when Davenport went down in the opener with a knee injury, seemed to be getting into a groove with him back in the lineup, beating Clemson and Pittsburgh before an off week.
But Davenport was suspended by Torbush on Tuesday after breaking a team rule.
Torbush was displeased with his offense when Curry was the starter because of the lack of contribution from others and the team's high amount of turnovers.
"We've challenged our offense not to put (Curry) in a situation where we had him in earlier," said Torbush. "We want to make sure he's an integral part of our offense but not the whole offense."
Despite a recent shoulder injury, Torbush believes Curry has matured over the last two weeks and is ready for the challenge Saturday.
"He brings a lot to the table because not only does he throw the ball well but he has the ability to run when he has to and when we want him to," Torbush said of Curry, who still leads the Tar Heels with 202 yards rushing five games into the season.
Torbush said he would like to see Curry value the ball more than he did during his first stint as starter.
"There is no question the reason we've had a chance to win the last two times out (with Davenport) is because our turnover ratio was down," Torbush said.
Curry may be entering the lineup again at a good time, considering the Wake Forest defense has been decimated by injury and is last in the ACC in sacks.
"One of the things you have to be able to do is put a heavy rush on the passer and help your coverage and create some opportunities for your offense in terms of field position," Caldwell said.
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