Foes look familiar

The North Carolina team Tennessee will face in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 should look vaguely familiar. Statistically, at least, the Tar Heels are pretty similar to the Vols.

For instance:

Carolina scored 24.9 points per game and allowed 22.9 for an average victory margin of 2.0 points per game. Tennessee scored 27.0 points per game and allowed 24.7 for an average victory margin of 2.3 points per game.

Carolina averaged 3.6 yards per rush and allowed opponents to average 3.9 per rush. Tennessee averaged 3.7 yards per rush and allowed opponents to average 4.1 per rush.

Carolina averaged 123.6 rushing yards per game. Tennessee averaged 116.1.

Carolina averaged 266.5 passing yards per game. Tennessee averaged 249.8.

Carolina averaged 390.1 total yards per game. Tennessee averaged 365.8.

Carolina allowed 133.8 rushing yards and 200.7 passing yards per game. Tennessee allowed 152.7 rushing yards and 229.2 passing yards per game.

Carolina intercepted 16 passes and threw 8 picks. Tennessee intercepted 17 passes and threw 12 picks.

Carolina recorded 25 sacks but gave up 34. Tennessee recorded 23 sacks but gave up 37.

Carolina converted on 40 percent of its third-down plays and allowed opponents to convert on 40 percent. Tennessee converted on 36 percent of its third-down plays and allowed opponents to convert on 40 percent.

Carolina converted on 89 percent of its red-zone opportunities (40 of 45) and allowed foes to convert on 78 percent (38 of 49). Tennessee converted on 76 percent of its red-zone opportunities (28 of 37) and allowed foes to convert on 77 percent (34 of 44).

Like the Vols, the Tar Heels can compete even when their ground attack is stopped cold. Carolina managed just 34 rushing yards vs. Florida State but won 37-35 thanks to 439 passing yards by quarterback T.J. Yates. Carolina managed just 21 rushing yards vs. LSU but got 412 passing yards from Yates in a 30-24 loss. The Tar Heels finished with minus-7 rushing yards vs. North Carolina State but won 21-16 behind a 411-yard passing performance by Yates.

Like Tennessee's Tyler Bray, Yates seems to have a rubber arm. He threw an average of 32 passes per game, averaging 265.3 yards per outing. He threw more than twice as many touchdowns (18) as interceptions (8). Bray threw an average of 33 passes in his four late-season starts, averaging 308.5 yards per game. He threw twice as many touchdowns (14) as interceptions (7) on the season.

Like Tennessee, Carolina relies heavily on its No. 1 tailback. Johnny White missed three games but averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 80.0 yards per game. UT's Tauren Poole averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 82.8 per game.

The Tar Heels' Casey Barth went 16 of 19 on field goal tries, with a long of 49 yards. Tennessee's Daniel Lincoln and Michael Palardy combined to go 15 of 18 on field-goal tries, with a long of 49 yards.

The Vols (6-6) and Tar Heels (7-5) have similar records and even posted similar results against their lone common foe. Carolina lost 30-24 to LSU on Sept. 4 in Atlanta. Tennessee lost 16-14 to the Tigers a month later in Baton Rouge.

One significant difference between the teams is that the Vols are a fast-starting, slow-finishing team, whereas the Tar Heels are a slow-starting, fast-finishing team.

Tennessee's best quarter is the first, outscoring foes a combined 94-51. UT's worst quarter is the fourth, having been outscored 48-80. Conversely, Carolina's best quarter is the fourth (78-47 scoring advantage) and its worst quarter is the second (81-101 scoring disadvantage).


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