ECU-NCU Odds

Chapel Hill, NCNorth Carolina may be undefeated, but its offense is a work in progress. A meeting with in-state rival East Carolina may help it start to put some points on the board.

Bet College Football Week 3

The 24th-ranked Tar Heels try to give their stingy defense some help Saturday when they host a Pirates team that has had trouble shutting down opponents.

Oddsmakers from online sports book BetOnline have made North Carolina -6.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 75% of bets for this game have been placed on North Carolina -6.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

North Carolina (2-0) returned nine starters on defense and that experience has been evident in the first two games. The Tar Heels rank sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense, seventh in total defense at 174.5 yards per game and 14th in rushing defense at 51.0. They have held opponents to 4 for 29 on third-down conversions, forced six turnovers and allowed 16 points.

"Everybody knows our defense is doing an amazing job," quarterback T.J. Yates said. "It's definitely something you know on the sideline, that your defense is playing hard. Some people let you know about it, too, on the sideline. That's not a bad thing. You've kind of got to know that you've got to hold up your end of the bargain."

Yates and the offense struggled to do so against Connecticut last Saturday, when they were held scoreless until the fourth quarter. The offense came around just in time, as North Carolina scored 10 points before winning 12-10 on a safety when UConn was called for offensive holding in the end zone with 1:32 left.

"Sometimes the maturity of your football team gets tested in games like that," coach Butch Davis said. "It's one of the best examples that I've seen where when things are going wrong, the defense is like 'We've got them. We'll keep stopping them.' And nobody was pointing fingers at anybody."

Yates has already thrown three interceptions after tossing four in seven games last season, but he's working with an unproven group of receivers after Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster were NFL draft picks in April.

"I don't think that there's any way that we win the game without T.J.'s maturity at quarterback," Davis told North Carolina's official Web site. "He stood in there, he got hit, he moved the team, he made completions and I think the benefit of him having been a starter in '07 and some of '08 paid dividends."

Yates' second career appearance came at ECU on Sept. 8, 2007, and he was part of the Tar Heels' second loss in 11 meetings with the Pirates. ECU came away with a 34-31 win on a field goal as time expired to register its first victory in the series in 32 years.

Yates went 20 of 32 for 344 yards and threw three TDs and one interception in that game. He now gets to face an ECU team that allowed 59 points and 478 yards through the air in splitting its first two games.

The Pirates allowed four touchdown passes in a 35-20 loss at West Virginia last Saturday.

"Looking back and knowing that we were going to give up four big plays, I probably would have been much more aggressive," coach Skip Holtz said.

Holtz may employ that tactic this week against Yates.

"Offensively, their numbers are not as impressive as they are from a defensive standpoint," Holtz said. "I know that T.J. Yates is one of the most impressive quarterbacks I've seen since I've been here. ... I know they're struggling a little bit offensively, but at this point, it certainly isn't because of him."

Bet College Football Week 3

Posted: 9/15/09 2:30PM ET

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