The Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte Saturday December 26th, will pit the Pittsburgh Panthers against North Carolina Tar Heels. The game will be a virtual home game for the North Carolina Tar Heels. Pittsburgh doesn’t have to travel far and should bring a large contingent of fans to the game to nullify North Carolina’s home field advantage.
Pittsburgh was 1:30 seconds away from a Big East Championship when Cincinnati roared back and snatched the title away from a stunned Pittsburgh team. It remains to be seen if that stunning defeat has gutted this team. Pittsburgh is playing for it’d first 10 win season since Dan Marino played for them.
North Carolina comes into the game with an 8-4 record playing in the ACC. North Carolina has a great defense that is ranked sixth in the nation against the run. The defensive line will be tested by Pittsburgh big running game.
The hard numbers show Pittsburgh is the best offensive team.
The hard numbers on offense point to Pittsburgh as the dominant team. Pittsburgh ranks 29th in rushing offense, although the late rise of running back Dion Lewis isn’t fully accounted for. Pittsburgh ranks 70th in passing and if they don’t establish the run early it will be a long game.
North Carolina and their sixth ranked run defense will be tested by freshman Dion Lewis. Rushing for 1640 yards, Lewis had his career game in the Big East Championship game rushing for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns. North Carolina’s defense is a tad better than Cincinnati’s defense so this will be the key match up.
Both coaches in this game Dave Wannstedt for Pittsburgh and Butch Davis for North Carolina served under Jimmy Johnson the only coach to win a national championship and a Super Bowl title.
Quarterback Bill Stull will be the key.
Led by quarterback Bill Stull, Pittsburgh will rely heavily on his arm. The rushing attack will not be effective unless Stull can hit his favorite target Jonathan Baldwin early and often. North Carolina quarterback TJ Yates is a serviceable quarterback. If he stays out of trouble it could be good for North Carolina.
Pittsburgh has plenty of time to forget about their two last second losses at the end of the season. North Carolina may rise up and upset Pittsburgh with a strong defensive stand but I am not betting on it. Pittsburgh -2 is the pick.
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