2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl Odds and Predictions
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/21/2009
One of the premier non-January bowl games, the Meineke Car Care Bowl is now in its eighth year. The bowl game played in the ACC backyard of Charlotte, North Carolina, features Big East representative Pitt and ACC representative, for the second consecutive year, North Carolina.
Pitt had much bigger aspirations than a bowl date the day after Christmas but after back-to-back heart breaking losses to rival West Virginia and Cincinnati in an epic fourth quarter meltdown with the Big East title on the line, the Panthers fell from potential BCS bowl participant to playing in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The Tar Heels also lost their last game of the season on the road at their rivals North Carolina State, but before that they had strung together four consecutive wins. The Tar Heels 8-4 record is a little deceiving as two wins came against the members of the FCS, Citadel and Georgia Southern, but it also scored impressive wins at Connecticut, at Virginia Tech, at Boston College and a home win against Miami.
Both team's motivation can be questioned in this game. The Tar Heels are back in this game for the second year in a row after losing to West Virginia, 31-30, last season. Pitt appeared to have its bags packed prematurely to the Sugar Bowl before a 17-point lead was lost in a Pittsburgh snow storm against Cincinnati. While the Panthers are reeling and disappointed in their draw, the Tar Heels are out looking for a win in front of a home crowd after losing a back-and-forth classic to West Virginia in this very game last season.
Pitt's offense is fueled by young playmakers Dion Lewis at running back, Jonathan Baldwin at wide receiver and Dorin Dickerson at tight end. They rank 16th in the nation in points scored with 33 points per game. The play of the Pitt defensive line is a big reason why Dave Wannstedt finally has the program turned around. It has shown the most in stopping the run, where the Panthers rank 17th in rushing defense.
The Tar Heels offense has struggled mightily all season. They rank 107th in the country in total offensive yards and 102nd in passing offense. They have done their damage on the defensive side of the ball where they rank sixth in the country in yards allowed.
Pitt has not seen a defense of North Carolina's caliber all season.
Line Value and Meineke Car Care Bowl Odds
Pitt is favored by 2.5 and the total has been set at 44.5. Rarely has North Carolina been an underdog this season and in the four instances they were dogs, the Tar Heels won outright three times and covered three out of the four times. There is plenty of value with North Carolina receiving any amount of points.
The Panthers last foray into ACC play was against North Carolina State. Pitt lost, 38-31, as one-point favorites. North Carolina's one game against a Big East opponent, the Tar Heels came away with a 12-10 win as 4.5-point favorites.
The value with North Carolina increases even more considering what the ACC has been able to do against the Big East in past Meineke Car Care Bowls. Before West Virginia's win last season the ACC had owned a 5-0 record against the Big East in the bowl game.
Meineke Car Care Bowl Predictions
The ACC's stretch of domination looks to continue this year after a one-year hiatus last season. The Tar Heels will have a home field advantage and their defense will be the difference in what should be a low-scoring affair. Take North Carolina and the points.
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