2022 Holiday Bowl Preview

The 2022 Holiday Bowl kicks off Wednesday night and should be full of offense. The North Carolina Tar Heels and Oregon Ducks face off.

As the bowl season really heats up this week, one of the more entertaining games on the docket is North Carolina vs Oregon. The Holiday Bowl has itself a very intriguing matchup between the ACC and PAC 12. Each of these teams has big-name quarterbacks and explosive offenses. Both teams also come into the contest trying to rebound from disappointing ends to the regular season. The Tar Heels have lost three in a row after a 9-1 start to 2022. The Ducks lost two of their final three games and missed out on the PAC 12 championship game. Each team will be gunning for its 10th win of the season.

Holiday Bowl Preview

This game should be very fun to watch if you like offense. The Tar Heels average 35 points a game, while the Ducks are a shade under 40 in that category. It will be the signal callers that garner the most attention in the Holiday Bowl. Drake Maye of North Carolina has had a phenomenal freshman season with over 4,000 yards passing and 35 touchdowns. Bo Nix, a transfer from Auburn, has been equally as good for the Ducks. He has 3,389 yards passing, 500 yards rushing, and 41 total touchdowns. Both defenses will have their hands full on Wednesday night.

Last Shot at Redemption

The North Carolina defense has had a rough year despite the team’s overall success. It is allowing 440 yards and 31 points a game in 2022. The Holiday Bowl will give the unit one last chance to redeem an otherwise porous campaign. That won’t be easy against the Ducks. Nix could have a big day if the Tar Heels can’t find a way to pressure him and force some mistakes. UNC has just 16 sacks and eight interceptions in 13 games.  If they give Nix time in the pocket, he will carve them up as he has most of the defenses he’s faced this year.

The Tar Heels’ secondary has also been hit hard by departures before the bowl game. Cam’Ron Kelly, Strom Duck, and Tony Grimes will all be absent from the field. An already beleaguered defense will now have to rely on back-ups and youngsters. Meanwhile, the Ducks will have their top two tailbacks and their top three receivers available. If the Tar Heels can’t win up front on defense, it could be a very long night.

Keeping Up

The one bit of good news for North Carolina is that Maye will play and has no plans of leaving Chapel Hill any time soon. The freshman quarterback became a star this season. Not only did he show he can make all the throws but he racked up 4,100 yards on a 67% completion rate. He also had 600 yards rushing, proving to be dangerous with his legs as well. He will need to have a huge day in the Holiday Bowl. The Tar Heels are not only missing multiple defenders, but leading receiver Josh Downs has opted out of the bowl as well. The Ducks will be without their leading tackler and their leader in sacks for the game. That should help Maye as he tries to integrate some new weapons.

Take The Over

The likelihood of this being a high-scoring affair was extreme before the opt-outs and transfers hit these two rosters. Now that likelihood has escalated even higher with so many important defensive players missing out for both teams. Two quarterbacks playing very well all season now have a chance to engage in a shootout against depleted defenses. Each team is looking to reverse a tough end to their regular season. The two programs are also looking to get back to winning ways in bowl games. The Ducks have lost four of their last six bowl appearances, while the Tar Heels have lost five of their last six.  Expect a lot of points in this year’s Holiday Bowl, and expect a big sigh of relief from the program that ends its season on a high note.

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