There will be no disappointment, no frustration, with a trip to Orlando for the Russell Athletic Bowl, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said on Sunday, not long after learning that his team would be headed there for a game against Baylor on Dec. 29.
Days ago UNC still had hope of completing an unlikely run to the College Football Playoff. Even if UNC had defeated Clemson, though, on Saturday night in the ACC Championship game the Tar Heels likely would have been left out of the playoff.
After their 45-37 loss against Clemson Saturday night, the Tar Heels still could have been selected for another New Year’s Six bowl. Instead they’ll be headed to Orlando for a game between two of the most dynamic offenses in the country.
“We’re not going to be disappointed,” Fedora said. “We’re going to be excited to be there.”
Those who like watching good offenses will probably appreciate the game, too. UNC leads the country in yards per play, with an average of 7.33. Baylor is right behind the Tar Heels, with an average of 7.25 yards per play.
The Bears, though, have been decimated by injuries at quarterback. They played their fourth-string emergency quarterback on Saturday during a 23-17 loss against Texas. That was Baylor’s third loss in its past four games.
There’s hope, though, that Jarrett Stidham, a freshman quarterback who entered this season as the team’s backup, will be back for the bowl game. Stidham kept the Bears’ offense moving well after Seth Russell, who entered the season as the starter, was lost for the season in late October with a neck injury.
Baylor and UNC have never played in football, but Fedora has deep ties to Baylor. It’s where he began his college coaching career in 1991 as a graduate assistant under coach Grant Teaff.
“You could say it’s where I cut my teeth on college football,” Fedora said. “And two of my children were born there in Waco, while we were there. So it was kind of special (to play Baylor), yes.”