North Carolina Tar Heels @ Tennessee Volunteers Music City Bowl Pick: I’m not sold on Tennessee – their last 4 games have shown me that they can win, and win when it matters, but only against teams like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Memphis – hardly big wins to hang your hat on. Winning is big, for confidence and just learning how to do it, but because you won doesn’t mean you’ll win. So, when I finally decided to pick the Vols, I didn’t do so because of those 4 wins to end the season, the 4 straight wins they needed to become bowl eligible. I picked them because this is a home game for the Vols, and they’ve been better at home than on the road. Defensively, they are figuring it out. Since allowing 41, 41, and 38 in three straight games (against Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina) they haven’t allowed more than 14 points. That’s a nice turnaround.
I love the semi-success Carolina had this season despite losing most of their defense to eligibility issues, and some key offensive players as well. The Tar Heels battled their way to 7-5 despite being forced to play without Robert Quinn, Greg Little, Charles Brown, and Bruce Carter for much of the season. Quinn is one of the best players in college football, and all in all this team lost 7 defensive players to eligibility. Yet they still played tough against tough teams, and got to this point.
But the past is there, and this season is already a success for the Heels. In a home game I like Tennessee to find a way to win in a close one.
North Carolina Tar Heels @ Tennessee Volunteers (+2)
North Carolina Tar Heels @ Florida State Seminoles Pick & Preview: The Tar Heels are 5-3 on the season, both straight up and against the spread. They have played surprisingly well despite missing half their projected starters for most of the season thus far, because of NCAA violations and the investigation process that forced players to remain in limbo. They have played well at home and on the road, and still have a chance to make noise in the ACC – and they get a couple more players back this week, including corner-back Charles Brown. He should help against the Seminoles’ solid passing attack.
Florida State comes in playing pretty poorly – they barely beat Boston College by 5 points (they were 22 point favorites) and fell to North Carolina State last week. If they come in playing poorly, and assuming they’ll walk away with a win over the undermanned Tar Heels – they’ll lose at home.
Looking at the Tar Heels, their resilience and toughness, getting 10 points seems like a great value bet. Only once so far this season have the Heels stumbled hard enough to lose by double digits (at Miami a couple weeks ago). They’ve won 5 of their last 6 games, and are still looking to become bowl eligible.
The Seminoles have a pretty solid team, on both sides of the ball, but these teams are more even than a spread like 10 indicates- I’ll take the road dogs.
North Carolina Tar Heels (+10.5) @ #24 Florida State Seminoles
New Orleans Saints: Patrick Robinson had some very productive years at Florida State, he also struggled to pick up interceptions in his final seasons. Still, the kid is a playmaker, and he’s not afraid of taking a chance and trusting himself – weird – sounds like every other corner – but this kid can get it done at a high level. Charles Brown is a great pick-up at the end of Round 2 by the Saints, he didn’t flourish in 2009 but a lot of that had to do with some questionable quarterback decisions and interesting playcalling. This kid has a lot of talent, and was a great pick by New Orleans. Jimmy Graham has loads of talent, and should turn into a solid player the longer he plays the game (he was a pretty good college basketball player as well). I can’t believe there were so many solid defensive line prospects in the late rounds of the draft, but plenty of good teams picked up good players there. Al Woods is a late 2nd to early 3rd guy talent-wise but he was snagged in the 4th. Sean Canfield might not rate out as an elite pro, but I think he’ll make a living in the NFL. He’s very accurate, picks up defenses well, and makes very good decisions. A good pick near the end of the draft. B+ Back to the 2010 NFL Draft grading team list.