CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 10 North Carolina will play for its school-record 12th win of the season in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Baylor.
“I can tell you that the North Carolina Tar Heel football team is extremely excited to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando,” Fedora said during a teleconference call on Sunday. “And then to be able to play a great opponent like Baylor University and a team that Art Briles is coaching makes it even that more special.”
Despite its ACC Championship Game loss to Clemson on Saturday, UNC remained in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl game before falling one spot shy of inclusion in the final College Football Playoff Rankings.
Due to the Sugar Bowl not being one of the semifinal games this year, the Big 12 and SEC champions (Alabama and Oklahoma) left a contract void due to their participation in the College Football Playoff. As a result, No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 16 Oklahoma State jumped UNC in the pecking order.
No. 18 Houston secured a NY6 bowl as the Group of 5’s highest-ranked champion. After those contractual obligations were met, the remaining teams ranked highest by the selection committee playoff filled the rest of the NY6 bowls. No. 9 Florida State was the final team to make the cut.
Being left out of the New Year's Six games, however, will not become a focal point for the Tar Heels.
“Our team is not going to be disappointed to be in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando because it’s a great place to be against a great opponent,” Fedora said. “There will be no worry that we didn’t get into a New Year’s Six game. Our guys are excited to play. We’re anxious to get the opportunity to play one more game.”
While the Tar Heels (11-1, 8-0 ACC) and Bears (9-3, 6-3 Big 12) will play for the first time, UNC head coach Larry Fedora has a long history with the Baylor program. His first coaching job came at Baylor in 1991 as a TE/WR/RB coach under Grant Teaff, and two of his daughters were born in Waco.
“You could say it’s where I cut my teeth on college football,” Fedora said.
UNC is making its second trip to Russell Athletic Bowl, albeit under a different name and location. The Tar Heels defeated Arkansas, 20-10, in the 1995 Carquest Bowl in Miami Gardens.
This will be UNC's seventh bowl appearance in eight years.