College football enthusiasts may have bigger games on their mind on Saturday, but North Carolina and East Carolina still have a few noteworthy qualities.
Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner has a big-time arm, and East Carolina's Shane Carden has looked solid in his first two appearances.
Let's preview this one from top to bottom.
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
When: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line: North Carolina (-16.5), according to covers.com
Who Might Not Play for East Carolina (according to USAToday.com)
DB Leonard Paulk—Questionable (Knee)
NT Michael Brooks—Questionable (Knee)
DB Kristopher Sykes—Questionable (Hip)
DE Justin Dixon—Out Indefinitely (Knee)
Who Might Not Play for North Carolina (according to USAToday.com)
T Rob Crisp—Questionable (Undisclosed)
CB C.J. Wilson—Out Indefinitely (Eligibility)
LB Michael Peek—Out For Season (Knee)
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Both of these teams have a long way to go before they're worthy of the Top 25, but you have to start somewhere.
North Carolina has enough talent to eventually break into the mix, but it must score a blowout win here. The Pirates are not expected to break the barrier, but no one wants to lose to their in-state rival.
What They’re Saying
The Tar Heels have been very inconsistent through the season's first three weeks. They show flashes of brilliance, then they commit some boneheaded play minutes later.
Associated Press reporter Aaron Beard supplied a quote (via Knoxville News-Sentinel) from Bryn Renner regarding his team's shaky play:
I wish I could answer that. It's going to click sometime. ... We're working hard to find that one jumpstart thing we could have as a team and as a unit offensively. We're searching for it and when we find it, we'll be a good team.
East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill talked about the emotions involved in this game in his weekly press conference (via East Carolina's official website):
We need to be excited and match the energy that North Carolina will have at the beginning of the game and at the same time continue to execute our offense. After the initial hype and early game energy wears off it comes down to execution and that is what we will be preaching to our team throughout this week.
Who to Watch, East Carolina: Shane Carden, QB
Carden didn't start the Pirates season opener against Appalachian State, but he's played both games since. In two games, he's thrown for 311 yards and two touchdowns. He's only a sophomore, so there's still room to improve.
The Pirates are No. 92 in the nation in scoring. Carden must step up if they want to steal one from their in-state nemesis.
Who to Watch, North Carolina: Bryn Renner, QB
The Tar Heels are 1-2, but Renner has turned in three excellent performances. Through the first three weeks, his quarterback rating is 158.2. He's thrown for 870 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions.
If you want a bright spot, Renner has been it. He has an NFL arm, and his 62.4 completion percentage attests to his improved decision-making.
Renner will add to his outstanding totals with another big game on Saturday.
Prediction: North Carolina 37, East Carolina 13
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