Home Local Sports “MATTer of Opinion” Sports Column: Tar Heel Football without the Tar Heels

“MATTer of Opinion” Sports Column: Tar Heel Football without the Tar Heels

Sports columnist Matt Harrelson.


The regular season college football season is over (minus the annual Army-Navy game) and with that, the bowl season will soon be upon us. So, I figured this week I would take a look at all the teams from the Tar Heel State that will be going bowling this month.

Saturday, December 16
Celebration Bowl
North Carolina A&T vs. Grambling
12 p.m. on ABC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta

Look for both teams to put up points in this game. Led by quarterback Lamar Raynard, who had 26 touchdown passes this year, I see A&T pulling out the win.

Saturday, December 23
Dollar General Bowl
Toledo versus Appalachian State
7 p.m. on ESPN at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama

At the same time that this is a matchup of two up-and-coming programs, I think Toledo’s offense (coming off crushing Akron in MAC Championship) will be too much for the Mountaineers.

Tuesday, December 26
Quick Lane Bowl 
Duke versus Northern Illinois
5:15 p.m. on ESPN at Ford Field in Detroit

Once again, Northern Illinois has a strong run-heavy offense, but the combination of Duke’s defense and quarterback Daniel Jones will be enough for the victory.

Friday, December 29
Belk Bowl
Wake Forest versus Texas A&M
1 p.m. on ESPN at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte

Led by quarterback John Wolford, Wake Forest should be ready to play against a team that is in transition and is moving on from Kevin Sumlin to Jimbo Fisher at the moment. Motivation will make the difference.

Friday, December 29
Hyundai Sun Bowl
No. 24 North Carolina State versus Arizona State
3 p.m. on CBS at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas


Behind Bradley Chubb and one of the nation’s top defensive fronts, NC State will be able to prevail over ASU, who will be playing in head coach Todd Graham’s last game.

TRIVIA TIME: The Belk Bowl, held in Charlotte, began in 2002 and was originally known as the Queen City Bowl. What two teams played in that first bowl game on December 28, 2002?

Once again looking at the upcoming bowl games, but from a different perspective, is a debate that came up last year when now-NFL running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey sat out their respective bowl games to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Some said that it was giving up on their teams in the last game of the year, while others said that it was smart because there’s so much money on the line and their individual bowl games didn’t have any impact on the College Football Playoff.

Me personally, I don’t care either way. If you want go get your body at peak physical condition and ready for the combine, then so be it. But I’m curious if we’ll see any players do it this year. That will go towards telling us if this will be a trend or just a one-time thing.

Will Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who has already been hurt this year, but is a first round prospect, suit up and play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Central Michigan?

Will we see fellow first rounder quarterback Josh Rosen from UCLA sit out the Cactus Bowl against Kansas State? Or could we even witness another big-time player in Penn State running back Saquon Barkley take a pass on the Fiesta Bowl?

Guess we’ll have to sit and wait first.

TRIVIA ANSWER: In the very first Belk Bowl (which was then the Queen City Bowl), Virginia defeated West Virginia 48-22.


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