January 2’s nightcap is the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl, kicking off at 8pm ET. No.5 Texas A&M just missed making the playoff and will instead play No.13 UNC. It’s the first meeting all time and we’ll preview the game here.
No.5 Texas A&M Aggies (8-1)
The Aggies had a near perfect season with just one blemish on their schedule. The bad 52-24 loss to Alabama was the difference between being the first team out of the playoff and receiving a bid. The Aggies ran the table outside of that game, grinding teams down and dominating late in games.
The Aggies have a solid offense that got better when they became more run focused. Isaiah Spiller ran for 100 or more yards in five of the last seven games and is averaging over 100 yards per game. Kellen Mond hasn’t dismantled offenses with his arm but has limited turnovers and done enough to keep the offense dangerous.
Defensively A&M has been one of the better teams in the country allowing 21.1 points per game. They’re very effective against both the run and the pass and allow just 316.6 yards per game. Senior Buddy Johnson has had an outstanding season, leading the team in tackles to go with three sacks.
No.13 North Carolina Tar Heels (8-3)
North Carolina had another solid season in Mack Brown’s second year. The Tar Heels mostly took care of business this year but had a couple head scratching losses. A pair of three-point losses to Florida State and Virginia leave some questioning to what could have been this year.
North Carolina’s offense is one of the best in the country at 43 points per game. They average the most yards per game in the ACC at 556.6 and have a pair of 1,000 yard rushers and a 1,000 yard receiver. Quarterabck Sam Howell has been a prolific passer as well with a 69.1% completion percentage to go with 27 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Unfortunately the pair of 1,000 yard rushers and the 1,000 receiver have opted out of the bowl game. Same Howell will be all alone commanding a depleted offense. The Tar Heels are going to need a lot of players to step up if they want to find success against a good A&M defense.
The Tar Heels are okay defensively, relatively balanced against the run and the pass. They have the ability to get after the quarterback with 33 sacks this year. Top player Chazz Surratt has opted out of the game as well. The senior linebacker led the team in tackles and sacks.
Texas A&M mostly has their full team participating in the bowl and is eager to prove they were deserving of the playoff spot. UNC meanwhile is without their two stud runningbacks, their best receiver, and their best defender. They’ll have a very uphill battle before them if they want to be holding the trophy.
Texas A&M: 34, UNC: 17
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