ATLANTA – It's been an entertaining return for Mack Brown at North Carolina through the first five games of the season, but the Tar Heels seek to end a three-game losing streak when they travel to struggling Georgia Tech on Saturday. North Carolina pushed top-ranked Clemson to the brink in last week's 21-20 defeat with freshman quarterback Sam Howell getting stopped on a two-point conversion try with 1:17 left as the Tar Heels played their fifth game decided by six points or fewer.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: North Carolina -10
"That's who we need to be," Brown told reporters after the defeat, dropping his record to 2-3 in his return to the Tar Heels after coaching at the school from 1988-97. "You've got to be a team that plays to a standard and doesn't play to an opponent." North Carolina has made a habit of rallying in the fourth quarter of games, outscoring opponents in the final 15 minutes 51-16 as Howell has passed for five touchdowns in the final quarter. The Yellow Jackets continue looking for positives in coach Geoff Collins' first season following last week's 24-2 loss at Temple. Georgia Tech committed three turnovers inside the Temple 35-yard-line and narrowly avoided its first shutout in 277 games on a safety from junior defensive end Antwan Owens.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (2-3, 1-1 ACC)
Howell passed for 144 yards and two touchdowns against Clemson, directing a 16-play fourth-quarter drive to bring the Tar Heels within one point, and has passed for 1,168 yards and 11 scores. North Carolina outrushed Clemson 146-125 with 99 yards coming from junior running back Michael Carter, who is averaging 63.8 yards rushing per game (10th in the ACC). Junior linebacker Chazz Surratt led the defense with seven tackles (two for loss) and a sack.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (1-3, 0-1)
The transition from the triple-option offense to a more traditional pro-style scheme has been difficult, as the Yellow Jackets are last in the ACC in scoring at 13.5 points per game. Quarterback James Graham has passed for just 192 yards through four games while running back/quarterback Tobias Oliver has rushed for 264 yards and a touchdown. On the bright side, the Yellow Jackets are fifth in the country in passing yards allowed per game (136.8).
1. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC and are 12th in the country in red-zone defense, giving up points on 10-of-15 opponents' drives inside the Georgia Tech 20-yard line.
2. North Carolina senior DB Myles Dorn ranks ninth in the ACC with 7.4 tackles per game.
3. Georgia Tech senior WR Jalen Camp, who leads the team with 134 receiving yards, will miss the rest of the season due to surgery for an undisclosed reason.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 31, Georgia Tech 10