Music City Bowl Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels vs Tennessee Volunteers Expert Picks

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Tennessee Volunteers
Thursday, 12/30/10, 6:40 PM EDT, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  North Carolina -1
Current Betting Line:  North Carolina PK
Opening Total:  50
Current Total: 50.5

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be playing in their third consecutive bowl game when taking on the streaking Tennessee Volunteers

North Carolina will represent the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee.  The contest will mark the first meeting between the two schools since 1961.  “I’m excited our program has an opportunity to play Tennessee in this bowl game,” said athletic director Dick Baddour.  “I congratulate our student-athletes and coaching staff for their hard work, determination and perseverance this season.”  The program is playing in its third straight bowl game, the longest streak since playing in seven consecutive from 1992-98.  Carolina is also playing its first bowl game outside the state of North Carolina since 2001.  The Tar Heels three previous bowl appearances all came in Charlotte.  The squad is 18-16 ATS over the past three years and bettors must keep a watchful eye on the college football lines page.

The Tar Heels posted a 4-1 record on the road this season with wins over Rutgers, Virginia, Florida State and Duke.  Turnovers will prove to be a critical stat for the team in this contest, committing 15 miscues in five losses this year, while turning the ball over just six times in seven wins.  Quarterback T.J. Yates plays a crucial part in limiting mistakes and has thrown 61 consecutive passes without an interception.  He has also managed to connect on 61 of 79 passes for 675 yards and three touchdowns over the final two regular season games.

Tennessee finished strong with four straight wins to improve to 6-6 and become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season.  The Volunteers managed to string together four consecutive victories for the first time since the 2007 season and a bowl victory would give the squad its first five-game winning streak since closing out that particular year.  Head coach Derek Dooley is just the fifth coach in program history to lead a team to a bowl game in his first season.  Tennessee head coaches are 5-4 all-time in their first bowl game with the Vols.  The team has a great opportunity of proving victorious in this contest due to winning 15 consecutive games in the city of Nashville since 1984.  Over the past three seasons, Tennessee is 5-1 ATS when the line is +3 to -3.

The Volunteers are 25-23 all-time in bowl games and have made the second-most bowl games of any team in the country.  Tennessee’s defense was paramount to the team’s success to close the season, allowing only 52 points in November for an average of 13.0 points per game.  Success during that particular month is nothing new, as the program is 74-12 in November in the last 21 seasons.  Freshman quarterback Tyler Bray also provided a spark on the offensive side of the ball, posting a 4-0 record as a starter, while becoming one of 16 true freshmen to start at the position this season nationally.

Bettors will be interested in the Tar Heels being 1-5 ATS in their last six games, while the Volunteers are 0-4 ATS against the ACC.

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