PREGAME CHATTER: This game doesn’t require a whole lot of discussion because more of the talk is done around the water cooler, in the parking lot or anywhere else former graduates can argue for bragging rights. Right now, that honor belongs to North Carolina after a last-minute punt return helped snap the Tar Heels’ five-game losing skid to N.C. State in 2012.
WHAT IT MEANS: In a rivalry like this one, the games always mean something – even if both teams are in the bottom of the ACC. The Wolfpack and the Tar Heels both need a victory. The two have combined for just one conference win this season.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Tar Heels’ offensive line struggled two years ago during the Wolfpack’s 13-0 victory, and after losing three starters to the NFL Draft from last year’s roster, the Tar Heels have to find a way to plug the holes.
ODDS: North Carolina by 3.
KICKOFF: 12:30 p.m.
TV/RADIO: WRAL/WRDU 106.1-FM (UNC)/WRAL 101.5-FM (NCSU)
PREGAME CHATTER: East Carolina restarts its season after a bye week in which it needed to recover from injuries. On paper, this is a mismatch, as East Carolina has the advantage on both sides of the ball against an FIU squad that has only one victory to its credit this season. Jumping out to a quick start will be key for the Pirates to dampen the home squad’s spirit.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Pirates’ march to the Conference USA title game cannot afford any letdowns, especially against struggling teams like FIU.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The fill-ins. There will be a number of players at key positions in place of starters, and the Pirates could not only come away with a victory today, but with added depth.
ODDS: East Carolina by 20.
KICKOFF: 6 p.m.
TV/RADIO: WITN/WNCT 107.9 F.M.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Battling Bishops come into this contest on a four game losing streak. The Panthers have been an up-and-down team this season. They started the the year with four losses in a row, then convincingly won two conference games only to be blown out last week.
WHAT IT MEANS: Both teams are eliminated from contention for the USA South championship, but today is important for N.C. Wesleyan because it is Senior Day. This is the final chance for the Bishops’ seniors to play at a home. What better way to end than with a win?
DIFFERENCE MAKER: N.C. Wesleyan’s defense. The Bishops have to stop the bleeding on the defensive side of the ball, where they have allowed 40 or more points in three of their past four games, twice allowing more than 50 points in that stretch..
KICKOFF: 1 p.m.
– Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz