North Carolina is playing Stanford in an intriguing match-up in the 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
The Cardinal started off the season well, faltered in the middle, then finished strong. They only lost to very good teams on the season. Stanford only beat two bowl eligible teams in USC and Kansas State.
The quarterback position has been a huge problem for the Cardinal this season. Keller Chryst took over and didn’t lose a game he started, but also didn’t beat any bowl eligible teams. He has only thrown for 837 yards and nine touchdowns, with just two interceptions. He adds the ability to run too, with 145 yards.
Chryst has a few receivers who he can go to in this game. Michael Rector has been doing it for the Cardinal for years, but has just 355 yards on the season. Trenton Irwin leads the team in receiving yards with 437. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside leads the team with five receiving touchdowns.
Christian McCaffery has elected to not play in this game to protect his NFL draft stock, so the rushing load will fall on Bryce Love. Love has 664 yards on the season and is averaging a whopping 7.4 yards per carry. Love will give fans a look into next season in this game.
Stanford allows 147 yards per game on the ground, which is pretty good. The pass defense is above average giving up 219 yards per game.
Harrison Phillips has had a tremendous season with 7.5 sacks and will be tasked with getting after UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
North Carolina Tar heels
North Carolina finished the season at a respectable 8-4 record. What wasn’t respectable was the bad loss they suffered to their rival, Duke. That was their only bad loss on the season. They did, however, beat Pittsburgh, Florida State, Miami and Georgia Tech for some solid wins.
Mitch Trubisky might be the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft after just one season as a starting quarterback. He has a seven to one touchdown to interception ration with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions. Trubisky finished the regular season with 3,468 passing yards.
Ryan Switzer has 91 catches on the season, with a chance to get to 100 in this game. With 1,027 yards, he is a master of racking up yards after the catch. Bug Howard is a player that Trubisky likes to throw down the field to and he two have connected for 768 yards and seven touchdowns.
Running backs Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan both get carries for the Tar Heels. Hood is at 5.9 yards per carry, while Logan is at 5.7 yards per game. Hood has 858 yards and eight touchdowns. Logan has 578 yards and seven touchdowns.
The run defense is horrible for UNC with 236 yards allowed per game. Fortunately the pass defense is among the best in the country, giving up 183 yards per game.
Linebacker Cole Holcomb has stood out with 60 solo tackles on the season.
Without McCaffrey, Stanford will still be able to move the ball, but won’t be able to score enough to keep up with North Carolina. Trubisky will find Switzer and Howard often for big plays and Stanford won’t be able to catch up.
North Carolina Tar Heels 41 Stanford Cardinal 29