College Park, MD - North Carolina is already enjoying one of the best seasons in the program's history, and appears poised to continue its recent success.
On Saturday, the 17th-ranked Tar Heels seek their third straight victory overall and a second consecutive win over host Maryland in an ACC matchup.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have North Carolina –2.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on North Carolina –2.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
North Carolina (7-2, 3-2) is off to its strongest start since winning the first eight games in 1997 en route to an 11-1 finish. It has won five of its last six contests, posting a 28-7 victory over then-No. 22 Georgia Tech last Saturday.
The Tar Heels jumped two spots in the AP Top 25 poll, and were assured their first winning record since finishing 8-5 in 2001.
North Carolina, which gained bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004, has matched its victory total from the previous two seasons combined.
But the Tar Heels recognize that they have much more left to accomplish with three contests left, and a spot in next month's ACC championship game is still a possibility. North Carolina - among several teams in the conference with two losses - last won the ACC in 1980.
"We obviously want it to happen and we set goals for the team to have a high level of success," said quarterback Cameron Sexton, who went 7-for-16 for 100 yards and two touchdowns versus Georgia Tech.
"The biggest thing for us as a football program and we talk about it all the time, is just to take the games one at a time. We expect to win and play well. We do not worry about the rankings, but absolutely we expect to be here."
While Sexton and the Tar Heels - averaging 327.9 total yards and 30.8 points per game - were outgained 423-314 last weekend, they capitalized on a resurgent rushing attack that amassed a season-high 186 yards thanks to the efforts of Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn.
Houston ran 13 times for a career-best 74 yards and two TDs, and Draughn had 17 carries for 90 yards for North Carolina, which is averaging 132.3 rushing yards and will oppose a Maryland run defense that has yielded 152.3 yards per game.
North Carolina's defense, meanwhile, has conceded 349.2 yards a game this season, and has allowed 454.6 yards per contest in its last five matchups versus Maryland (6-3, 3-2) - a span in which it lost four in a row from 2001-05 before emerging with a 16-13 home victory on Nov. 3, 2007.
The Tar Heels have lost three straight road matchups with the Terrapins since a 40-14 victory in 1997, but haven't played in Maryland since Nov. 1, 2003.
Maryland is perfect in its five home games this season, outscoring opponents 153-82. However, it is coming off of a 23-13 defeat at Virginia Tech on Nov. 6.
Maryland entered the game as a ranked team (No. 23) for the first time since 2006, but fell out following its worst rushing performance in over 12 years.
While the Terrapins boast the ACC's third-best averages in total offense (351.2 yards) and rushing yards (166.8), they were outgained 400-228 held to minus-12 on the ground for the lowest such effort since being limited to minus-eight in a loss to then-No. 3 Florida State on Nov. 23, 1996.
"It is tough to win when you cannot run the ball," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We didn't run the (way) we are capable of doing."
Quarterback Chris Turner went 19-for-31 for 240 yards and three sacks with a touchdown to Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had five catches for 92 yards.
Maryland has defeated all three Top 25 teams it has faced thus far by an average of 12.3 points.
To have success again this weekend, the Terrapins will try to contain the Tar Heels' Hakeem Nicks, who had eight catches for 88 yards and touchdown in last season's matchup. Nicks had three receptions for 72 yards and a TD against Georgia Tech last weekend as he established the school record for receiving yardage (2,472).
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
MARYLAND is 8-6 against the spread versus N CAROLINA since 1992
N CAROLINA is 8-6 straight up against MARYLAND since 1992
3 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
N CAROLINA is 1-0 against the spread versus MARYLAND over the last 3 seasons
N CAROLINA is 1-0 straight up against MARYLAND over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at MARYLAND since 1992
MARYLAND is 4-2 against the spread versus N CAROLINA since 1992
MARYLAND is 4-2 straight up against N CAROLINA since 1992
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
(!) [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
[OL] Calvin Darity is %27?%27 - Leg - 11/05/08
[LB] Kennedy Tinsley out for season - Suspension - 11/02/08
[DB] Nolan Carroll injured last game %27?%27 - Leg - 11/06/08
[DB] Kevin Barnes is out for the season. - Shoulder - 10/21/08
[DB] Richard Taylor out for the season - Knee - 09/21/08
[RB] Cory Jackson missed last game %27?%27 - Leg - 11/06/08
[WR] Kevin Dorsey is expected to miss entire season - Foot - 09/05/08
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Posted: 11/11/08 8:32 PM