Ranked ACC Battle
Chapel Hill , NC - North Carolina is in the midst of its best season in 11 years, but is not about to get complacent.
The No. 19 Tar Heels look to knock off the ACC Coastal Division leader and beat a ranked team for the second consecutive game as they host No. 22 Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made North Carolina -4 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Georgia Tech +4 (View College Football bet percentages).
North Carolina (6-2, 2-2) was off last week following its 45-24 win over then-No. 23 Boston College on Oct. 25, becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2004. The victory sprung Tar Heels back into the AP rankings after a 16-13 loss at Virginia on Oct. 18 knocked them out.
"It's great to know we have six wins, but we still want more," wide receiver Hakeem Nicks told the program's official Web site.
The Tar Heels are enjoying their best start since winning their first eight contests in 1997 en route to an 11-1 mark. A victory over Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday would secure the team's first winning record since finishing 8-5 in 2001.
But those achievements likely won't be enough to satisfy a team that also has aspirations for a spot in next month's ACC championship game. North Carolina hasn't won the conference since 1980.
"There's an excitement," said quarterback Cameron Sexton, who went 19-for-30 for 238 yards and three touchdowns against Boston College. "We have a legitimate chance of achieving some of the goals we set out to do and I think we're really focused on trying to do that."
Nicks made eight catches for 139 yards and scored a career-high four touchdowns versus BC in what coach Butch Davis called "the most complete team game we've probably played" in his two seasons at the helm.
North Carolina is among five teams trying to chase down the first-place Yellow Jackets, who have dominated this series in recent years.
Since winning back-to-back matchups in 1996 and 1997, the Tar Heels are 1-8 versus Georgia Tech with the lone victory coming at home on Sept. 18, 2004.
Georgia Tech also is coming off a win over a ranked team, 31-28 over then-No. 16 Florida State last Saturday. The Yellow Jackets recovered a fumble in the end zone with 45 seconds left on the Seminoles' final drive to snap a 12-game losing streak in the series.
"It was the last play of the game, we either had to stop them right there (or lose)," said freshman safety Cooper Taylor, whose hit forced the turnover.
The Yellow Jackets are uncertain if quarterback Josh Nesbitt will be able to play. He went 4-for-5 for 55 yards and rushed for 61 yards on 14 carries before exiting last Saturday's game in the third quarter due to an ankle injury. Freshman Jaybo Shaw replaced him, but lost a fumble and threw an interception on his only pass attempt.
The potential absence of Nesbitt, who has run for 436 yards and six TDs, could hinder a Georgia Tech offense which leads the ACC at 242.3 rushing yards per game - eighth-best in the FBS. Jonathan Dwyer averages a team-leading 99.9 yards rushing after gaining 145 on 13 carries with two touchdowns versus Florida State.
North Carolina has been very good against the run recently, limiting its last three opponents to an average of 2.4 yards per carry and 62.3 per game.
"When you look at a complete team - offense, defense and special teams - North Carolina might be the best in the league," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "There is a reason why they are playing as well as they are now. It is certainly going to be a challenge for us on Saturday."
Top Betting Trends
All games in this series since 1992
N CAROLINA is 8-8 against the spread versus GEORGIA TECH since 1992
GEORGIA TECH is 10-6 straight up against N CAROLINA since 1992
6 of 11 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
N CAROLINA is 2-0 against the spread versus GEORGIA TECH over the last 3 seasons
GEORGIA TECH is 2-0 straight up against N CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at N CAROLINA since 1992
N CAROLINA is 4-4 against the spread versus GEORGIA TECH since 1992
N CAROLINA is 4-4 straight up against GEORGIA TECH since 1992
3 of 4 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at N CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons.
N CAROLINA is 1-0 against the spread versus GEORGIA TECH over the last 3 seasons
GEORGIA TECH is 1-0 straight up against N CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[DB] Jahi Word-Daniels missed last game, downgraded to expected to miss. -
[CB] Jerrard Tarrant has been suspended from the team. - Suspension - 07/0
[S] Dominique Reese left last game %27?%27 - Concussion - 10/27/08
[RB] Quincy Kelly missed last game %27?%27 - Undisclosed - 10/26/08
[WR] Tyler Melton missed last game, downgraded to expected to miss. - Knee
[OL] AJ Smith missed last game %27?%27 - Head - 10/25/08
[CB] Martin Frierson missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/26/08
(!) [QB] TJ Yates is expected to miss at least 6 weeks. - Ankle - 09/22/08
[FB] Anthony Elzy expected to miss at least 6 weeks - Shoulder - 10/25/08
[WR] Brandon Tate expected to miss remainder of the season - ACL - 10/18/0
[TE] Zack Pianalto missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 10/25/08
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Posted: 11/04/08 9:36 PM