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UNC vs West Virginia

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What: Meineke Car Care Bowl
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
When: Saturday, December 27th, 1:00 PM
TV: ESPN
Records: UNC 8-4; WVU 8-4

Heels return to bowl action.

Chances are this will be a very good game.  West Virginia comes in with a veteran team and the dynamic Pat White at QB playing his final college game.  The Heels will enter this contest probably as healthy as they have been since early in the season save the absence of Brandon Tate.  TJ Yates should now be fully recovered and back in game form.  Brooks Foster and Anthony Elzy are both probable to play.  In short, the extra practice time should put the Heels at top form.  I also think UNC will be motivated to end the season on a high note in an effort to bury the disappointments of the Maryland and NC State losses.

The player to watch will likely be Hakeem Nicks.  With the prospect of turning pro out there for Nicks nothing would serve that ambition better than a huge performance in a bowl game.  This is also a homecoming game for Nicks who played high school football for perenniel powerhouse Independence High School in Charlotte.  It is a safe bet Nicks, as well as Ryan Houston will have their own significant cheering section.

The challenge for the Heels in this game will be on the defensive side as they contend with yet another mobile QB.  Having faced Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor, NC State's Russell Wilson and Georgia Tech's Josh Nesbitt UNC players have plenty of experience with QBs that have great escape ability.  As was the case with the Georgia Tech game, UNC had plenty of time to prepare for an offense that is similar in nature.  While the Heels did give up a ton of yards versus the Jackets they made the most of stopping GT when it counted and getting some key turnovers.  The same hopefully will be true today.

Following the win over GT, the Heels lost two of their final three games which cost them the Coastal Division and a great deal of fan pride where one of the in-state rivals was concerned.  A huge win in this game will be a redemption of sorts.  It does not completely erase the pain of the mid-November swoon but it puts the program on the right track heading into next season.

UNC 31 WVU 21