Tar Heels-Sun Devils set for another shootout?

Updated: October 17, 2003, 6:21 AM ET

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- After gaining 657 yards and falling short last season, Arizona State and star quarterback Andrew Walter are wondering just what it will take to beat North Carolina this time.

The Tar Heels came into last year's matchup against the Sun Devils with a 1-3 record and a reeling defense -- much like this season -- only to pull out a stunning 38-35 victory.

Walter said it's hard for him to forget the outcome of the 2002 meeting.

"Our guys understand the way the game went last year," said Walter, who has thrown for 1,513 yards and 12 touchdowns. "Their eyes and ears are alert."

And Walter doesn't want to hear about North Carolina's 1-5 record.

"Just because their record is 1-5 doesn't mean they're not good," Walter said. "They have played a lot of hard teams. Those guys are as athletic as anybody."

North Carolina's five losses have come against Florida State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, N.C. State and Virginia.

"I hope our schedule will make us better down the road," UNC coach John Bunting said.

North Carolina's young defense improved dramatically in last weekend's 28-17 win over East Carolina. But the secondary is still banged up, which could spell trouble against Walter.

"He has a strong arm and he's athletic enough to get out of the pocket and buy time," Bunting said of Walter. "I wouldn't say he's Philip Rivers, but I would compare him to Matt Schaub.

"He has all the throws. He is very much the complete package. It's pretty scary to watch the guy."

While Walter was hard to stop in last year's game, so was UNC's Darian Durant, who threw for a school-record 417 yards and five TDs.

Durant comes into Saturday's game without an interception in his last three games -- a span of 107 attempts.

"The difference maker in Darian Durant is his competitive juices," Bunting said. "On game day, he's a different guy.

"He has learned how to prepare better. He has grown as a person and he's grown as a quarterback. He's much more responsible in terms of taking care of the football and making good decisions."

Walter was impressed by Durant's performance last season.

"He can make plays with his hands and his feet," Walter said. "He is someone who can make plays all over the field."

The Sun Devils (3-3) had lost three straight before blasting Oregon 59-14 last weekend.

Walter said it's too early to tell if that victory will help Arizona State get back on track for the rest of the season.

"Just because you get one win doesn't mean you have anything else," he said. "You have to keep it going and we could use this (North Carolina) win as a turning point."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index