What: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Where: LP Field, Nashville, TN
When: Thursday, December 30th, 6:30 PM
Records: UNC 7-5, Tennessee 6-6
Alternate title: The So You Thought You Could Duck Us Bowl
And so the book will close on a trying 2010 for Carolina football with a bit of karma and good humor the college football gods have to love. The Tar Heels will face Tennessee, who raised eyebrows this year because they bought out their home-and-home series with UNC in order to lighten up their schedule. In what can be described either as irony or serendipity, the Volunteers won their last four games to become bowl eligible and earn a bowl date with Carolina anyway.
But karma's sense of humor only goes so far, and the turmoil of injuries and suspensions that has followed UNC all season made the trip to Nashville as well. Senior linebacker Bruce Carter and senior offensive lineman Alan Pelc will not play due to injury, and it was announced this week that senior running back Anthony Elzy, who had performed so admirably after the season-ending injury to Johnny White, is suspended for the bowl game for academic issues. Carolina is down to two healthy running backs, Shaun Draughn and Hunter Chuck Norris Furr.
Senior quarterback T. J. Yates will try to close out a record-setting senior season with a bowl win for the first time since 2001. With the running backs depleted yet again, it may be up to Yates to carry his team offensively once more.
Tennessee got off to a slow start under first-year coach Derek Dooley but won its last four games to become bowl eligible, although the Vols only beat one team with a winning record, and that was a 6-5 FCS team. UT helped turn their season in November on the arm of freshman quarterback Tyler Bray, who threw for almost 250 yards per game.
Bowl officials in Nashville have to be thrilled as the game is "sold out" (for what this really means in bowl terms, you should really read Death to the BCS, but I digress) as it is a relatively short drive for UNC fans and will be a de facto home game for Tennessee. Carolina is 0-2 under Butch Davis in bowls, but this should be the year he breaks through as even a depleted UNC team should be enough to handle the Vols.
UNC 27, Tennessee 17