When: Dec. 26; 4:30pm ET (ESPN)
Where: Detroit, MI; Ford Field (65,000)
Spread: North Carolina -3 (via VegasInsider.com)
All-Time Series: Tied 3-3
Last Meeting: North Carolina Win, 24-22 (9/10/2011)
Gift Bag: 250 Best Buy gift card; Sony headphones; custom-made Fathead for each player, with his likeness; various apparel; football (courtesy sportsbusinessdaily.com)
If you love offensive football, then this will be the Big Ten bowl game to watch. Welcome to the Quick Lane Bowl 2014, we are very certain there will be little defense being played considering the rankings we just showed you. That means the real question for the inaugural Quick Lanes Bowl is which passing offense is going to win this game?
North Carolina has really blossomed in the pass game under former Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell, and redshirt junior quarterback Marquise Williams has become the breakout ACC quarterback of the year. He’s passed for 2,875 yards and 20 touchdowns to nine interceptions, while completing 62.7 percent of his passes this season. That meant third best in yards, yards per game and second best in the ACC in completion percentage.
Yet, Rutgers is no slouch either with a healthy and much more efficient Gary Nova back at quarterback for one last game. He ended the season with 2,667 yards and was one of just three quarterbacks with 20 or more touchdowns (20 exactly for Nova) in the Big Ten. He also happens to have the best wide receiver in the game, with Leonte Carroo (our No. 22 player in the Big Ten) being easily one of the top two receivers in the conference.
These teams appear to be mirror images of each other, which means this bowl game is likely to come down to which weakness becomes less weak over the bowl game practices. For me, that could be the running game at North Carolina.
Rutgers seemed to have trouble with quarterbacks that could run the ball in 2014, and while UNC’s Williams can chuck the ball, he can also kill you in the run game. He ended this season as the Tar Heels rushing leader with 732 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
This game could end up being a crap shoot, but it should also be one of the more entertaining to watch this bowl season.
Andy: North Carolina 31, Rutgers 21
Dave: Rutgers 34, North Carolina 27
Zach: North Carolina 31, Rutgers 28