UNC-N.C. State

Raleigh, NCNorth Carolina's defense was shredded by North Carolina State last season, surrendering nearly 500 yards of offense in its most lopsided loss to its ACC neighbor in 19 years.

The 23rd-ranked Tar Heels feel they have the defense to turn the tables in 2009.

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North Carolina's fifth-ranked defense will be out for revenge Saturday in Raleigh as the Tar Heels face the rival Wolfpack looking to win a fifth consecutive game for the first time in more than eight years.

Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made North Carolina -5.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on North Carolina -5.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Both North Carolina (8-3, 4-3) and N.C. State finished with 4-4 conference records last season, but the Wolfpack were much happier with the conclusion of their league schedule.

N.C. State (4-7, 1-6) dropped its first four conference games before closing on a four-game winning streak that included a 41-10 thrashing of the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. North Carolina, meanwhile, dropped two of its final three ACC contests after an impressive 7-2 start that included wins over three ranked opponents.

The loss to the Wolfpack was the Tar Heels' most lopsided in the series since falling 40-6 in 1989.

"It just baffles me how bad we played, as a team, as a whole," Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates said after finishing 10 of 22 for 116 yards and an interception. "They came in today on a mission, came to take us out as soon as possible."

The Wolfpack, meanwhile, totaled a season-high 466 yards of offense, with quarterback Russell Wilson going 17 of 28 for 279 yards an two touchdowns.

"What it speaks to is we're the best football program in the state," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said after his team finished 4-0 against fellow North Carolina schools, "without question."

That certainly hasn't been the case this season, as the Wolfpack have turned into arguably the ACC's worst team. N.C. State's 22 turnovers since the start of conference play are fourth-most among Football Bowl Subdivision teams, and a sharp contrast to last season, when it gave the ball away three times in its last seven regular-season games.

North Carolina seems primed to continue that trend in Raleigh. The Tar Heels have forced 28 turnovers - tied for ninth in the FBS - and returned two of Boston College's six giveaways for touchdowns last Saturday in a 31-13 win in Chestnut Hill.

Junior safety Deunta Williams had three of the five interceptions for North Carolina, which can record its first five-game winning streak since Sept. 22-Oct. 20, 2001, with a win in Raleigh.

"(Our defense knows) that they're obviously carrying us an extreme amount, because they're getting turnovers and scoring touchdowns for us,'' said Yates, the ACC's lowest-rated passer (108.4). "I really respect the defense and everything they do. When we're struggling, they're out there getting us points and when we're sputtering on offense, they're not ones to point fingers.''

North Carolina ranks in the top 12 nationally in four major defensive categories, including fifth in total defense (261.6 yards) and 12th in scoring (15.9 points).

"Defense is the one thing that can be consistent,'' coach Butch Davis said. "You may not catch the ball or throw the ball as well. There's a lot of variables that may happen, and you can't control the weather."

Yates' offense may find moving the ball easier against a Wolfpack team that's allowed 41.4 points per game in losing six of seven. N.C. State's offensive has contributed to those problems, turning it over four times and having Wilson sacked five times last Saturday in a 38-10 loss at Virginia Tech.

In addition to trying to figure out the tough Tar Heels defense, the Wolfpack's offense will close the regular season with heavy hearts. N.C. State offensive coordinator Dana Bible was diagnosed late last week with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia and won't coach Saturday, instead remaining in a Chapel Hill cancer center for 30 days of treatment.

"It's a big blow to us,'' offensive guard Julian Williams said. "He has other things he has to take care of right now and we'll take care of the football.''

O'Brien will bring back former graduate assistant Jay Civetti to help against the Tar Heels. Civetti has spent the past two years as offensive coordinator at Division III Tufts, which has concluded its season.

North Carolina leads the all-time series 63-29-6.

Bet College Football Week 13

Posted: 11/24/09 7:33PM ET

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