The Russell Athletic bowl is a matchup between North Carolina, who came out of nowhere and had a surprising year vs Baylor, a team who had national title dreams this season. Baylor’s season has been riddled with injury at the quarterback position. Starter Seth Russell broke his neck against Iowa State, and second string QB Jarrett Stidham’s season came to an end with an ankle injury. That gives sophomore Chris Johnson the starting role in this exciting bowl matchup. On Baylor’s official roster, Johnson is labeled as a WR/QB, but he looked very impressive in the Bears win vs Oklahoma State. One of the bright spots this year for Baylor has been the play of star WR Corey Coleman, but Coleman is out for the Russell Athletic Bowl.
On the other hand, North Carolina has had something close to a dream season. Senior quarterback, Marquise Williams has been incredible. I truly believe he did not get enough Heisman trophy talk. Williams has shredded every defense he faced, including Clemson. Tailback Elijah Hood has also been sensational. Hood has added a physical element to this high-powered offense. Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik has been the best assistant coach hire of the year. Chizik took a historically bad defense a year ago, and made them into a physical tough defense. Although the UNC’s defense has drastically improved, this will still be an offensive shootout. Baylor is known for their up-tempo offense and will score a lot, but I do not think Chris Johnson with out his biggest weapon will be able to keep up with Marquise Williams in his last game wearing Carolina Blue.
Prediction: North Carolina 54, Baylor 40