The Thursday slate of bowl games are going to be must watch before the New Year’s Six and the College Football Playoff. However, this matchup is a good one and it has a highly talented NFL Draft prospect playing in this matchup. This matchup is between North Carolina (6-6) and South Carolina (6-6). The ACC vs SEC battle in this one will be a must watch game. With that being said here is my preview for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
Sam Howell and company really disappointed in 2021. Howell was a contender for the Heisman Trophy in the pre-season and he did not live up to that. Howell threw for 2,851 passing yards to go along with 23 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. This season was the worst season that Howell has had in his career with the Tar Heels statistically, but as a team this offense was incredible. This team averaged 500.1 total yards of offense per game which is 12th in the nation. North Carolina is also ranked 19th in rushing yards per game (219.8) and 15th in points per game as well (36.4). Even with the losses of guys like Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, this Tar Heels offense was pretty spectacular to say the least.
Defensively, is where this team went down the tubes during the year. This group gives up 421.8 total yards of offense per game, just over 170 rushing yards per game and on average give up 31.6 points per game. They are mediocre more than anything. Teams that do one thing really well were the Tar Heels kryptonite this season. However, this South Carolina offense is like the North Carolina defense and that is none other than mediocre. Which is a very good sign for the North Carolina squad in this matchup.
This South Carolina offense has been widely inconsistent this season. Another team that became bowl eligible by being very good at home. The Gamecocks only have one win away from home this season. Away from home this offense struggles and we could see more of the same against this North Carolina team. However, the Tar Heels defense is not that good so the Gamecocks could have a good day on offense. If this offense is going to get going, they are going to need receiver Josh Vann in a big way. They are without their starting running back here, but they do have a former top recruit ready to show what he is all about. In order to do that and take pressure off of this former recruit, the passing game will have to get going early in this one. The Gamecocks averaged under 200 passing yards per game, so in order to be successful in this one, they are going to have to be able to throw for more than 200 passing yards.
Defensively, this team is a good group. This group is ranked 26th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game as it is just under 180. They also only give up 24.3 points per game. This South Carolina defense is going to need to bring their A game, because if they are sleep walking at all in this game, they will be down big early and often in this matchup. Look for the Gamecocks to bring their best on the defensive side of the football.
UNC is a 9.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 57. My lean here is the over, but South Carolina’s offense scares me too much to take it officially. My official play though is UNC -9.5. With it being Howell’s last game before he heads to the NFL, the Tar Heels will do whatever it takes to end his career at UNC on a good note with a bowl win.
-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)
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