Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tennessee - North Carolina Music City Bowl Prediction

The Volunteers and Tar Heels face off Thursday in the first of two ACC vs SEC bowl games.

The Music City Bowl should be a great game that goes down to the wire. Here are the three keys to determining bowl winners in my mind.

Who Has The Better Team?
UNC Offense Yards Per Point: 15.9
Tennessee Offense Yds Per Point: 13.7

For offense, a lower yards per point is better. The Volunteers offense has been much more efficient this than North Carolina scoring touchdowns as opposed to field goals and turning opponent turnovers into points.

UNC Defense Yards Per Point: 14.6
Tennessee Defense Yds Per Point: 15.4

Again, Tennessee has the more efficient defense (higher is better) giving up a point for every 15 yards.

UNC Sagarin Rating: 41
UNC Strength of Schedule: 34

Tennessee Sagarin: 54
Tennessee SOS: 43

One would think playing in the SEC the Volunteers would have the much more difficult schedule, but the Tar Heels played LSU in the non-conference as well as two of the top teams in the ACC Atlantic - FSU and NC State. UT's stats advantage is somewhat negated by the lesser strength of schedule.
Edge: Even

Which Coach Will Have His Team Better Prepared?
Butch Davis is 4-2 in bowl games, but 0-2 at North Carolina. Derek Dooley is 1-0 in bowl games with the win coming while he was at Louisiana Tech so we don't have a lot of data on him. 
Edge: Even

Which Team Has More Motivation?
The Tar Heels were rocked with suspensions to begin the year and slowly got a few players back as the year went on. It would have been easy to mail it in when hopes of an ACC title were dashed yet they never showed any quit in the season.

Tennessee's bowl hopes looked dead in October, but a strong finish got the 6-6 Vols into the post season.
Edge: Even

Prediction
This bowl game could be one of the best this season with two very evenly matched teams. Bettors have moved the line from Tennessee +2 to a pick'em in some spots indicating the Vols have taken a lot of the action. Although the Vols will have a home crowd advantage, I think North Carolina has the better resume of wins and losses.

North Carolina 24 Tennessee 23
Confidence Rank: 9 of 35

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