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Music City Bowl
North Carolina vs. Tennessee
Betting Line: North Carolina -1.5 o/u 50
It's a miniature miracle that the Tennessee Volunteers are in a bowl game. They started the season 2-6, but finished with 4 wins to help save HC Derek Dooley's first season at the helm of this historic program. Much of the Vols success is thanks to freshman QB Tyler Bray. The 6-6 giant passed for 1,537 yards and 14 TDs despite being the only QB to play in a game for Tennessee in just 4 games. Coincidentally those 4 games are the last 4 in which the Vols won. RB Tauren Poole has also been instrumental in the Vols resurrection of their season. Poole has scored in each of the last 4 games and owns 994 yards and 11 TDs on the year.
North Carolina's trip to a bowl game this year is no small feat either. They
lost 4 starters to ineligibility at the start of the year, including stud
defensive tackle Marvin Austin. The Tar Heels were able to finish 7-5 in large
part due to QB TJ Yates. The senior has passed for 3,184 yards and 18 TDs this
year. One of his best performances came when he completed 24 of 35 passes for
439 yards and 3 TDs en route to a 37-35 win over Florida State. Quality wins
came against the aforementioned Seminoles as well as ECU and Clemson. Defense
will be the name of the game. Can they stop a young, but solid Tennessee
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Tennessee was hammered by just about every good team they faced this year. They won down the stretch as a result of a soft 2nd half schedule. North Carolina certainly had bigger hopes for the season, but considering the adversity they faced, getting here was an accomplishment.
This is a game where, in our opinion, the oddsmakers got it right. Tough to find much of an edge here, either statistically or emotionally. The Vols would have the slightest of edges by our numbers. In fact our score prediction model comes up with a 23-23 final.
We're going to lean towards the Tar Heels here based on them being the more
veteran team. This lean is based on nothing more than a gut feeling, so be
careful. But we think UNC shows what could have been as they send their seniors
off with a big win over a young, up and coming Tennessee team who is likely
thrilled just to be here. Lean North Carolina -1.5