North Carolina Football: Bowl game possibilities

north carolina football

Marquise Williams (12) will look to lead North Carolina to their first bowl victory since 2010. (Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)

The 2013 North Carolina football regular season ended last weekend with a 27-25 loss to archrival Duke in a hard fought, back and forth game. However, all was not lost for the Tar Heels, as they still finished the season with a 6-6 record, meaning they are bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.

Carolina will probably not find out where they will play their bowl game until this upcoming Sunday, after the conclusion of the ACC Championship game. There are several bowl projections across different media outlets currently out, and there seems to be a general consensus on where the Tar Heels are headed to play their final game of the 2013 season – Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte has been the home of a bowl game since 2002, and has been known as the Belk Bowl since 2011. Obviously, this would be a pseudo-home game for UNC and one would have to imagine that Bank of America Stadium would be filled with Carolina blue.

If the Tar Heels did get selected to play in the Belk Bowl, they would likely be matched up against the third best team from the American Athletic Conference, or the old Big East. As of right now, that matchup would seem to be the Cincinnati Bearcats, who finished the regular season 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the AAC. Cincinnati played in the Belk Bowl last season, where they defeated Duke in a 48-34 shootout.

However, before penciling the Tar Heels and Bearcats in the Belk Bowl on December 28th, there is another possibility. If the Belk Bowl does pass on UNC, possibly selecting Georgia Tech out of the ACC instead, then the next most likely scenario would be the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee.

North Carolina has some history in the Music City Bowl, defeating the Tennessee Volunteers in a 30-27 overtime victory in 2010, marking the Tar Heels’ last bowl win. If Carolina did get selected to play in Nashville, they would play a team from the Southeastern Conference, possibly the Ole Miss Rebels.

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If I had to guess at this moment, I would be very surprised if the Belk Bowl did not select North Carolina to represent the ACC in Charlotte. The Tar Heels have previously played in the Charlotte bowl game three times, and have always drawn a relatively large contingent of fans to the area.

The fans and home-field advantage haven’t necessarily helped UNC in the past though, as they are 0-3 in this particular bowl game. Carolina’s last appearance resulted in a 19-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers in 2009. Nevertheless, I have a feeling head coach Larry Fedora would not mind staying in-state to play a bowl game in front of mostly Carolina fans regardless of past experiences.

North Carolina and their fans should find out their bowl fate on Sunday, but one thing is for sure – no matter whom the Tar Heels face, they will need to continue their play from the second half of the year when they won five games in a row, instead of playing like they did during their 1-5 start through the first six games of the season.

Read more news, rumors and opinion on our North Carolina football page.