ACC Bowl Preview #3

Dec. 17, 2010

December 30th – Music City Bowl
North Carolina (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6), 6:40 p.m.

After all the distractions began in July, Butch Davis is probably very glad that his team gets a chance to finish out 2010 in a bowl game. The Tar Heels’ off the field news has been as much a part of the season as their third straight bowl bid under Davis. But Carolina is in search of its first post-season win since knocking off Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl of 2001, which was the first year John Bunting coached in Chapel Hill.

The irony of the matchup at LP Field is that Tennessee asked out of a two-game series against Carolina just over three months ago. Now the Vols get the Heels anyway. Curious and interesting at the same time, don’t you think?

Carolina will be without LB Bruce Carter against the Vols, and with QB Tyler Bray starting to find his way in the second half of the season for Derek Dooley, that could be trouble for Carolina. Taurean Poole is just shy of 1,000 yards rushing, but does enough to off-set a defense and let Bray throw it. Whether it’s tight end Luke Stocker or WR Gerald Jones, Bray is clearly the future for the Vols and they don’t mind letting him throw it… a lot.

For both these teams, the Music City Bowl will be as much about 2011 as 2012, except for Carolina, its almost a “thank you” to players like QB T.J. Yates, who steadied a rocking ship in August and September when it seemed like a news story was breaking everyday on the Heels.

Yates has been solid, and the various guys running the ball for Carolina have helped them get back to post-season after it seemed like a doom season was about the only script they could write when it started.

This game is sold out in Nashville, primarily with Volunteer fans, but it’s a critical game in the ACC’s post-season landscape.

— Wes Durham

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