2015 NCAAF Bowl – Tuesday football – North Carolina at Baylor

North Carolina (11-2 SU, 8-5 ATS) heads to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla. looking to secure its first 12-win season in school history. They’re just happy the game isn’t being played in Charlotte, as they’re 0-2 SU/ATS at Bank of America Stadium this season, and 11-0 SU/8-3 ATS elsewhere.

– Baylor (9-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) started the season as one of the top teams in the nation with designs on a national title. However, injuries really hurt the Bears down the stretch, especially at key positions, and now they simply will have to settle for a 10-win season if they can be successful in their bowl game.

– The Bears lost QB Seth Russell (neck) to a season-ending neck injury in late October. QB Jarrett Stidham (ankle) stepped in and had a win in his initial start, but he too was lost to an ankle injury which leaves him doubtful for the bowl game. That means QB Chris Johnson (concussion), who was also knocked out down the stretch, will need to lead this team. He is probable to play Tuesday. If he does play, he will be without WR Corey Coleman, who is out with a sports hernia. The good news for the Bears is that top rushing threat RB Shock Linwood (ankle) is expected to be ready.

– Johnson and Lynx Hawthorne are the signal callers left standing, and neither was particularly impressive when given the chance. Johnson completed just 15 of his 38 pass attempts for 220 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, while Hawthorne tosses 10 times on 22 attempts for just 64 yards, no scores and two picks. The lack of a polished passing game might mean more leaning on Linwood, who rambled for 1,329 yards and 10 scores, averaging 6.8 yards per attempt. RB Johnny Jefferson also stepped up with 701 rushing yards and five scores, while change-of-pace Devin Chafin punched eight in for score. The team misses Russell, who had six rushing touchdowns in addition to his heroics in the pass game, but they have plenty of other ball carriers.

– For the Tar Heels, QB Marquise Williams really established himself as a leader this season, posting 2,825 yards passing with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions while also running for 867 yards and 11 scores. If he falters, backup QB MitchTrubisky is more than capable. WR Mack Hollins led the team with 711 receiving yards and eight scores, and WR Ryan Switzer managed 664 yards with 51 grabs and six touchdowns. WR Quinshad Davis is also a threat, posting 11.8 yards per catch with four scores. They can go four-deep with WR Bug Howard, too, as he posted 17.2 yards per grab with 446 yards and three scores.

– The Tar Heels posted 26 or more points in each of their past 12 games, and they averaged 47.4 points per game in their final five outings. They needed the points, as their defense reverted back to their 2014 form, allowing an average of 31.6 points per game during the five-game span. That’s not good news against a Baylor offense which scores like a video game.

– UNC hasn’t had great success in bowl games lately, going just 2-5 in their past seven postseason showings dating back to 2001. For what it’s worth, the Tar Heels are 6-2 all-time in bowl games in the state of Florida, although their last postseason appearance in the Sunshine State was back in the 1998 Gator Bowl.

– Baylor hasn’t had nearly as long of a bowl history as some, but they’ve made up for lost time in recent seasons. Tuesday will mark their sixth consecutive bowl, by far the longest in school history. They have lost each of their past two outings, suffering a 52-42 setback to UCF in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, and a 42-41 heartbreaker against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl last season. On a positive note, Baylor has scored 41 or more points in four straight bowl appearances, but they have also allowed 44.0 points on defense. In other words, if you like points you’ll want to want the Russell Athletic Bowl.

– UNC is 6-1 ATS in their past seven against teams with a winning record, but 1-4 ATS in their past five neutral-site games. Baylor is 16-7 ATS in their past 23 against teams with a winning record, and 8-3 ATS in their past 11 non-conference tilts. The Bears are 1-5 ATS in their past six overall.

– The ‘over’ is 4-0 in UNC’s past four against teams with a winning overall record, and 4-1 in their past five overall. The ‘under’ is 4-1 in their past five non-conference tilts, however. For Baylor, the ‘over’ is a perfect 5-0 in their past five neutral-site games, and 21-8 in their past 29 non-conference tilts. The ‘over’ is 27-10-1 in their past 38 against teams with a winning overall mark.

December 29, 2015 by : Posted in College Football No Comments

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