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Music City Bowl 2010: Will North Carolina or Tennessee Churn Out a No. 1 Hit?

Brandon CavanaughCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2010

Music City Bowl 2010: Will North Carolina or Tennessee Churn Out a No. 1 Hit?

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Not too long ago, this matchup would have gotten quite a bit more attention than it has thus far.

    Unfortunately, for both teams, there have been some major speed bumps as of late.

    North Carolina has been decimated by ineligibility.

    Tennessee has been experiencing trial by fire with a brand new coach following the Lane Kiffin debacle.

    Will the Tar Heels be able to bounce back amidst turmoil?

    Can the Volunteers head coach guide them to a winning season?

    How many times will “Rocky Top” be played?

    Let’s review.

1: North Carolina Has Been Unpredictable

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    The Tar Heels do deserve a little bit of credit.

    They opened the season against then-No. 21 LSU.

    North Carolina had 13 suspended players and only lost by six.

    Still, a loss is a loss.

    This season, predicting North Carolina’s success was infuriatingly difficult due to both the opponents and not knowing what players would be available to take the field.

     

    A light ACC schedule allowed the Tar Heels to pick up seven wins, but it still wasn't an easy journey.

    They were plastered by Miami (FL) 33-10 and suffered a tough defeat at Florida State 37-35.

    North Carolina nearly capped off the season with a loss to Duke, but managed to hang on for a 24-19 victory over the Blue Devils.

2: Tennessee Took Their Lumps

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Supplying a little context makes the Volunteers’ recent past a bit more understandable.

    You’re excited about your fresh-faced, highly-touted head coach.

    He’s got swagger, he’s got style and boy howdy, he’s going to bring Tennessee back to prominence.

    Then he leaves after a single season.

    Perhaps Derek Dooley wasn’t exactly who Volunteer fans had in mind to take over for the departed Lane Kiffin.

    Tennessee could’ve had an absolutely horrid season due to disarray.

    To Dooley's credit, they didn’t.

    Yes, the Volunteers lost to every ranked team they faced.

    Keep in mind, each one was ranked in the Top 20 including BCS National Championship Game participant Oregon.

    The wins were just about as impressive as the losses.

    Tennessee defeated Memphis and Ole Miss by a combined score of 102-28.

    They took care of business versus Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

    Now they have an opportunity to knock off a team that Butch Davis has coached for four years in their own head man's first.

3: Butch Davis Could Really Use a Win

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Speaking of Butch, suspensions aside, he needs this win about as badly as he needs oxygen.

    His days in Chapel Hill may be numbered.

    A loss to Tennessee won’t help to cool an already quickly-burning seat.

    When Butch Davis arrived at North Carolina, many across the college football landscape thought that the Tar Heels may become a force.

    Perhaps not just in their conference, but across the nation.

    Four years later, he sports a 27–23 record (15–17 in conference).

    His team’s best conference finish was third in their division.

    Oh, and he has never won a bowl as the Tar Heels' head coach.

    Obviously, a far cry from his 51–20 record while head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

    His opponent has nothing to lose.

    If Derek Dooley wins the 2010 Music City Bowl, he’ll have exceeded expectations.

    Butch, on the other hand, has everything to lose.

    Never mind any further visits by the NCAA.

4: North Carolina's Key Offensive Players

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    QB T.J. Yates:

    259-of-383 (67.6% Comp.), 3,184 yards, 18 TD/8 INT

    RB Shaun Draughn:

    106 carries for 477 yards and 5 TD

    WR Dwight Jones:

    57 catches for 895 yards and 4 TD

5: Tennessee's Key Offensive Players

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    QB Tyler Bray:

    98-of-179 (54.7% Comp.), 1,537, 14 TD/7 INT

    QB Matt Sims:

    113-of-195 (57.9% Comp.), 1,460 yards, 8 TD/5 INT 

    RB Tauren Poole:

    193 carries for 993 yards and 11 TD

    WR: Denarius Moore:

    43 catches for 912 yards and 9 TD

6: North Carolina's Key Defensive Players

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    DT Quinton Coples:

    53 TKL (29 Solo), 14 TFL, 8.5 SCK, 2 PBU, 2 PD, 10 QBH, 1 FF

    DE Donte Paige-Moss:

    43 TKL (23 Solo), 11 TFL, 5.5 SCK, 1 PBU, 1 PD, 1 QBH

    LB Zach Brown:

    68 TKL (44 Solo), 0.5 TFL, 2 INT, 2 PD

    LB Kevin Reddick:

    66 TKL (42 Solo), 5 TFL, 1 SCK, 2 INT, 4 PBU, 6 PD, 4 QBH

7: Tennessee's Key Defensive Players

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    DE Malik Jackson:

    46 TKL (28 Solo), 11 TFL, 5 SCK, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 4 PD, 5 QBH, 1 FF. 1 FR

    DE Gerald Williams:

    41 TKL (21 Solo), 6.5 TFL, 3.5 SCK, 1 PBU, 1 PD, 4 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 BLK

    CB Prentiss Waggner:

    54 TKL (34 Solo), 2 TFL, 5 INT, 4 PBU, 9 PD, 3 FR

     

     

    S Janzen Jackson:

    65 TKL (38 Solo), 4 TFL, 1 SCK, 4 INT, 5 PBU, 9 PD, 1 QBH

8: Head-to-Head Statistics Matchup

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    Tennessee Rushing Offense: No. 100 (116 YPG

    North Carolina Rushing Defense:  No. 36 (134 YPG)

     

    Tennessee Rushing Defense: No. 63 (153 YPG)

    North Carolina Rushing Offense: No. 95 (124 YPG)

     

     

    Tennessee Passing Offense: No. 36 (250 YPG)

    North Carolina Passing Defense:  No. 39 (205 YPG)

     

    Tennessee Passing Defense: No. 82 (229 YPG)

    North Carolina Passing Offense: No. 25 (267 YPG)

     

    Tennessee Scoring Offense: No. 61 (27 PPG)

    North Carolina Scoring Defense: No. 46 (23 YPG)

     

    North Carolina Scoring Offense: No. 78 (25 PPG)

    Tennessee Scoring Defense: No. 55 (25 PPG)

9: North Carolina Will Win If...

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    T.J. Yates can find the end zone.

    Yates has shown that he has the ability to make big things happen with his arm.

    He has thrown touchdown passes to nine different teammates.

    Six of those players hauled in two or more scores from Yates.

    Tennessee has players on the defensive ends and deep in the secondary that could cause him trouble, however.

    The underneath defensive area will likely be North Carolina’s primary target to bring Waggner and Jackson in for some deep throws.

    Leading rusher Johnny White is out for this game, so the Tar Heels will live and die by Yates.

10: Tennessee Will Win If...

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    They can find a hot hand and stop T.J. Yates.

    As mentioned, the Volunteers aren’t lacking of defensive talent.

    Jackson and Williams will have their opportunities to sandwich Yates, especially if North Carolina’s running game breaks down.

    Waggner and Jackson have had field days picking off the opposition.

    They've also played in arguably the best conference in NCAA football.

    The problem for Tennessee is that you can’t win if you can’t score.

    Dooley needs to get a lucky roll of the dice between Bray and Sims.

    If the Volunteers get one of their signal-callers to match Yates’ production during the regular season, they have an excellent chance of winning.

    If not, Smokey will be hanging his head on the way back to Knoxville.

     

    Can't get enough football news, reviews and overall sports merriment? Follow Brandon on Twitter (@eightlaces) for the latest article updates and other general college football goodness.

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