A successful first few weeks last season lifted Connecticut into the Top 25 for the first time in school history, and another dominant start in 2008 has helped it return to the rankings.
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To remain undefeated and extend its stay among the nation's best, however, it will have to make do without starting quarterback Tyler Lorenzen.
The 24th-ranked Huskies will try to overcome an injury to Lorenzen as they seek their first 6-0 start in 14 years on Saturday night when they visit North Carolina in a non-conference matchup.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com 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 67% of bets for this game have been placed on North Carolina –6.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Connecticut opened 5-0 last season, but wasn't included in the poll until Oct. 28, when it was ranked 16th after winning seven of its first eight contests. The team remained part of the Top 25 for four consecutive weeks before falling out after a loss at then-No. 4 West Virginia on Nov. 24.
Another perfect five-game start has put the Huskies back into the rankings. Linebacker Lawrence Wilson's 45-yard interception return with 2:45 remaining sealed a late rally in Friday's 26-21 victory at Louisville in the teams' Big East opener.
"We had just enough in our gas tank to get it done," Huskies coach Randy Edsall said. "We're banged up, beat up, but we just have to live with it."
Edsall's team, though, must find a way to win without Lorenzen, who left Friday's game in the second quarter with a broken right foot, and is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery.
Tight end Steve Brouse was also hurt Friday, and could miss up to eight weeks after an operation on his broken right leg.
Even without two members of an offense that ranks 22nd in the nation, the Huskies prevailed mainly behind redshirt junior Donald Brown, who had 33 carries for 190 yards and a touchdown. Brown, the nation's leading rusher, has amassed 906 yards through five games, and his 11 TDs are second only to Michigan State's Javon Ringer (12).
Sophomore Zach Frazer will take over for Lorenzen after he went 8-for-15 for 90 yards and a touchdown against Louisville in his first career appearance. Frazer will try to guide Connecticut to its first 6-0 start since 1995, when current East Carolina coach Skip Holtz was at the helm.
"(Frazer) has to prepare just how he has every other week," Edsall said. "He has to watch the film and take the game plan and execute the game plan."
The Tar Heels (3-1) rebounded from their first loss of the season with a 28-24 road victory over the Miami Hurricanes last Saturday.
North Carolina returns to Kenan Memorial Stadium with the hopes of ending a nine-game losing streak against ranked opponents since beating No. 19 Boston College at home on Nov. 5, 2005.
"Connecticut is 5-0 and a ranked football team," said North Carolina safety Trimmane Goddard, who had two key interceptions in the final minutes of Saturday's win. "They have the leading rusher in the nation. We have to get off to a better start, with Connecticut's style of play we can't play catch up."
It is unclear whether junior Cameron Sexton or freshman Mike Paulus will be North Carolina's starting quarterback on Saturday. Sexton replaced Paulus early against Miami and completed 11 of 19 for 242 yards with a pair of fourth-quarter scores.
T.J. Yates, who started the season' first three games at quarterback, will miss five more weeks with a broken left ankle.
North Carolina won its lone meeting against Connecticut 48-21 at home Sept. 15, 1990.
[OL] Alex LaMagdelanie is out for the season. - Shoulder - 09/12/08
[DT] Jarrell Miller has left the team. - Personal - 08/02/08
[QB] TJ Yates is expected to miss at least 6 weeks. - Ankle - 09/22/08
[QB] Mike Paulus is expected to start. - None - 09/22/08
[DE] Darrius Massenburg missed last game ? - Knee - 09/20/08
Top Trends for this game.
CONNECTICUT is 42-24 ATS (+15.6 Units) in games played on a grass field since 1992.
N CAROLINA is 7-19 ATS (-13.9 Units) in home games in non-conference games since 1992.
Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.
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