Odds Favor UNC

Chapel Hill - North Carolina After graduating the first quarterback selected in this year's NFL draft, there was plenty of uncertainty surrounding Boston College this season.

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Even though senior signal-caller Chris Crane hasn't exactly filled Matt Ryan's shoes, the 23rd-ranked Eagles appear to have answered a few questions.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made North Carolina –3 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on North Carolina –3 (View College Football bet percentages).

BC, ranked for the first time this season, will look to justify its spot in the poll and win its fifth straight game Saturday in Chapel Hill, where North Carolina is hoping to bounce back after dropping from the Top 25.

After three full seasons as a starter in Chestnut Hill, Ryan was selected third in the 2008 draft and has exceeded expectations in Atlanta, leading the Falcons to a 4-2 start.

BC (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) has also played well without last season's ACC player of the year, earning a pair of shutouts defensively and averaging more than 35 points in its last four games - all victories.

The Eagles' biggest win came Saturday, when they beat then-No. 17 Virginia Tech 28-23, avenging their loss in last year's ACC title game.

"Our team is starting to come together," BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "We did last week (38-31 win at North Carolina State) and even more so this week. They believe now. They believe that they can do it."

BC beat the Hokies despite a number of mistakes by Crane, who has thrown five touchdowns and nine interceptions this season.

Against Virginia Tech, he went 16-of-32 for 218 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions - two of which were returned for touchdowns. Still, he led the Eagles back from an early 10-0 deficit, prompting Jagodzinski to call him "a winner."

He also got plenty of help from the defense and special teams. Rich Gunnell returned a punt 65 yards for the go-ahead touchdown - BC's first on a punt return in four seasons - while the Eagles' defense did not allow an offensive touchdown by Virginia Tech, holding the Hokies to 90 passing yards. BC's defensive unit ranks fourth in the nation, allowing just 251 yards per game.

"(Defensive coordinator) Frank Spaziani and the staff do a phenomenal job every week putting those guys in the right position to play," Jagodzinski said. "We did put them in a bad spot a few times and they came through."

North Carolina (5-2, 1-2) is in a tough position after a mistake-riddled 16-13 overtime loss at Virginia Saturday, falling from the rankings after rising to No. 18 with three straight victories.

Against the Cavaliers, junior quarterback Cameron Sexton threw a pair of interceptions without a touchdown pass and the defense allowed the tying TD in the final minute of regulation after holding Virginia out of the end zone for the first 59 minutes.

"I was devastated," said running back Shaun Draughn, who ran for a career-high 138 yards. "I felt like I left everything out there and still came out with a loss. I know the team is hurt. ? It's still there, but we've just got to take the loss as men."

The Tar Heels, tied atop the nation with 14 interceptions, failed to pick off a pass for the first time this season, something they'll try to change against the Eagles.

"We know going into the situation we are going to have to get a lot more pressure on the quarterback than we have been getting all season," defensive end E.J. Wilson said. "The secondary is going to have to step it up. We cannot wait for an interception to happen. We have to play consistent defense all game and the turnovers will come."

The Eagles and Tar Heels have faced off just once in ACC play, with North Carolina winning 16-14 at home on Nov. 5, 2005. The previous season, BC beat the Tar Heels 37-24 in the Continental Tire Bowl.

The winner of Saturday's game will become bowl-eligible, but BC will have to play without standout linebacker Brian Toal, who is out for the season with a broken fibula he sustained against Virginia Tech.

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
N CAROLINA is 1-1 against the spread versus BOSTON COLLEGE since 1992
N CAROLINA is 1-1 straight up against BOSTON COLLEGE since 1992
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.
All games played at N CAROLINA since 1992
N CAROLINA is 1-0 against the spread versus BOSTON COLLEGE since 1992
N CAROLINA is 1-0 straight up against BOSTON COLLEGE since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Dominick Magazu has transferred - None - 08/31/08
[DL] Alex Albright out for the season - Neck - 09/15/08
(!) [QB] TJ Yates is expected to miss at least 6 weeks. - Ankle - 09/22/08
[DL] Greg Elleby missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 10/04/08

Bet College Football Week 9

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Posted: 10/22/08 12:28 AM

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