North Carolina got its sixth win against Old Dominion a couple of weeks ago, thus earning the right to go to a bowl game for the first time since 2011. At 6-6, the Tar Heels are most likely to go to one of two bowls- either the Belk Bowl in Charlotte or the Music City Bowl in Nashville. It is unlikely that UNC slides ahead or below these two bowl games because they are good fits for UNC travel wise and matchup wise. Lets take a closer look at each of the two bowl possibilities and the UNC Football: Bowl Outlook.
Belk Bowl- Charlotte NC
UNC has been to Charlotte to play bowl games most recently in 2004, 2008 and 2009, the latter of the two under Butch Davis. If UNC is selected for the Belk Bowl, they would be playing an opponent from the “Big East” conference, with the opponent in the range of a Houston or Cincinnati type. The Belk Bowl had scouts at last weekends game, and want to pick UNC for its close proximity and fan base that would travel well to such a close game.
North Carolina staying in-state for its bowl depends a lot on whether Clemson gets an at large BCS bid or not. If Clemson does get an at large bid, then everyone in the ACC bowl pecking order moves up a “slot,” and UNC has a better chance at getting the Belk Bowl.
This bowl is a very realistic possibility for North Carolina. It wouldn’t be as exciting of a matchup as UNC vs. an SEC team would be, but short travel distances would make up for the lack of SEC quality competition.
Music City Bowl- Nashville TN
North Carolina was last in Nashville for a bowl in 2010, when a TJ Yates- led Heels team took down the Tennessee Volunteers in thrilling fashion. That game had to be one of the most exciting games for UNC Football in the last ten years, right up there with the UNC State game from last year and when UNC upset Miami around 10 years ago.
Nashville would be an appealing spot for the Tar Heels as well, much better than an Independence or Military Bowl appearance would be. The game would also feature a quality SEC opponent, like a Vanderbilt type. It also isn’t too bad of a trek from Chapel Hill to the Nashville, so Carolina fans would travel well. If UNC misses out on the Belk Bowl, this is still an appealing option number two.
Independent or Military Bowls
UNC was last in Shreveport Louisiana in 2011 with Everett Withers as head coach for the Independence Bowl. That game was an ugly, rainy afternoon, and it looked like UNC had no desire to face their opponent, the Missouri Tigers, that day. It was an ugly loss and an ugly end to the “Marvin Austin era” for UNC football.
North Carolina fans and players alike would probably be a little bummed out if the Heels fell past the Music City and Belk Bowls to these two contests, but its still a bowl game and an opportunity for Coach Fedora to build the program up. All that extra practice time for bowls really will help next season for this young Carolina team.
In the coming days UNC’s bowl game selection should come out and the Heels can start preparing for their final game of the season.