Previewing the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: Oregon vs. North Carolina
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This is the preview for the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 8:00 p.m. ET
Petco Park (San Diego, CA)
Betting splits: 52% of handle, 64% of bets on North Carolina +14
The best bowl game of the season when it comes to quarterback play could indeed be the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Drake Maye and Bo Nix made it clear in the weeks following the regular season that they would return to their respective programs for another season, and both are expected to play in this game on Wednesday.
Nix, who was dealing with an ankle injury at the end of the regular season, is expected to be healthy and without limits against the Tar Heels. Nix will have a new play-caller, as offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham is now head coach at Arizona State. But the losses for Oregon on offense are minimal, so there should not be much change at all from the unit which finished fifth in the country in EPA per play against FBS opponents (+0.24).
The losses for North Carolina are slightly more impactful. Not only is their offensive coordinator, Phil Longo, also gone, but so is leading receiver Josh Downs who decided to enter the NFL Draft. Downs’ 116 targets nearly doubled that of Antoine Green, the next leading receiver in terms of target share (65). This leaves the Tar Heels somewhat thin at wide receiver in a bowl game that looks to be a potential track meet.
The story here is the total. This number opened at 73 and now sits at 75 consensus, and for good reason. Not only are these two of the better quarterbacks in the country, but these are also two of the worst defenses in the country. Oregon checks in at 105th in overall defensive EPA per play allowed against FBS opponents and North Carolina is 120th. With great weather conditions expected, this looks to be a back-and-forth affair.
As far as the line is concerned, the market is starting to buy back on North Carolina somewhat, with the hooks disappearing across the board on 14.5 and 14 being the consensus number as of Tuesday. Do not be surprised if this gets under that number when kickoff arrives. —Jonathan Von Tobel
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