2008 Meieke Car Care Preview - WVU vs. UNC
UNC's Hakeem Nicks & WVU's Quinton Andrews
UNC's Hakeem Nicks & WVU's Quinton Andrews
Posted Dec 20, 2008

Kicking off a great day of midrange bowls is a battle for Big East and ACC pride. Will West Virginia be able to take a big step forward under head coach Bill Stewart with a win, or will this be a jumping off point to a big 2009 for North Carolina? Check out the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl Preview & Prediction.

2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl

West Virginia (8-4) vs. North Carolina (

Dec. 27, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Payout: $ 1 million   Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC

- 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

National Rankings
West Virginia North Carolina
Total Offense
65th  352.50 ypg 95th  317.33 ypg
Total Defense
35th  325.5 ypg 62nd  357.92 ypg
Scoring Offense
75th  24 ppg 49th  27.5 ppg
Scoring Defense
9th  15.92 ppg 30th  20.33 ppg
Run Offense
12th  217.17 ypg 86th  125.08 ypg
Run Defense
46th  134.83 ypg 58th  140.75 ypg
Pass Offense
109th  135.33ypg 83rd  192.25 ypg
Pass Defense
38th  190.67ypg 79th  217.17 ypg
Turnover Margin
12th  1.00 27th  0.50
West Virginia
Villanova W 48-21
at E Carolina L 24-3
at Col. L 17-14 OT
Marshall W 27-3
Rutgers W 24-17
Syracuse W 17-6
Auburn W 34-17
at Conn. W 35-13
Cinc. L 26-23 OT
at Louisville W 35-21
at Pitt L 19-15
South Florida W 13-7
North Carolina
McNeese St W 35-27
at Rutgers W 44-12
Va Tech L 20-17
at Miami W 28-24
Conn. W 38-12
No Dame W 29-24
at UVa L 16-13 OT
Boston Coll W 45-24
Ga Tech W 28-7
at Maryland L 17-13
NC State L 41-10
at Duke W 28-20
Position Ratings
relative to each other
WV 5 highest
1 lowest
5 Quarterbacks 3
4 RBs 2.5
2 Receivers 4
4 O Line 2
3.5 D Line 3
3.5 Linebackers 4
4.5 Secondary 3.5
5 Spec Teams 3.5
3.5 Coaching 4

By Richard Cirminiello

This year’s Meineke Car Care Bowl will give the college football world a chance to say farewell to West Virginia QB Pat White, while welcoming back North Carolina to the postseason.

The holder of 15 NCAA, Big East, or school records, White is one of the most decorated and accomplished athletes playing in one of the 34 bowl games. Chief among his accomplishments has been rushing for more yards than any other quarterback at this level as he established himself as the greatest running quarterback in college football history. While it wasn’t his fault, White’s final season hasn’t been what it was supposed to be.

Heavy Big East favorites entering the season, West Virginia was a shell of its old self, losing to East Carolina and Colorado in September and dropping a pair of pivotal league games in November. Was it just a coincidence that former head coach Rich Rodriguez was no longer around? Mountaineer fans don’t think so. They’ve turned their angst toward Bill Stewart, who’ll need to win a second bowl game in under a year to temporarily quiet the critics.

The Tar Heels are back, competing in a bowl game for the first time since 2004. It’s taken Butch Davis less than two years to turn things around in Chapel Hill, improving the overall talent level and play on the field. This game will give the program a chance to show the country just how far along they’ve come this year.

Carolina was actually in the ACC Coastal driver’s seat as late as mid-November before showing its youth with back-to-back losses to Maryland and North Carolina State. Learning to close out games and seasons is an art that’ll come with time for the youthful Heels. Playing a quality opponent in a bowl game is exactly what Davis and his staff need to flip the fast-forward switch on Carolina’s rebuilding plans.

Five of the six Meineke Car Care Bowls were won by the ACC, and the other was won by Boston College just before it jumped to the ACC. This might be the best, and more important matchup yet for the bowl game as it'll go along way to cementing the final 2008 reputations of the two schools, where they're headed, and the two respective conferences.

Players to watch: White is not the only game-breaker toiling on the West Virginia offense. RB Noel Devine and SB Jock Sanders are a pair of jackrabbits that can go a long way with just a little help from their blockers. Devine has held up surprisingly well in his first year as the feature back, carrying 193 times for 1,228 yards and three touchdowns. Sanders does a little bit of everything for the Mountaineers, leading the team in receiving and touchdowns, while getting four or five carries each game.

The responsibility of corralling Devine and Sanders belongs to Carolina’s Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant, two of the most athletic linebackers in the ACC. Sturdivant is a tremendous tackler in the open field, which is typically where he’ll find Devine and Sanders roaming. Carter can match West Virginia’s athleticism on defense and special teams. He’s blocked five kicks this year and has his sights set on Mountaineer all-star Pat McAfee.

The Tar Heels have a playmaker of their own on offense, prolific WR Hakeem Nicks. The school’s all-time leading pass-catcher, he’s a big, physical target with 60 catches for 1,005 yards and nine touchdowns. West Virginia has been solid in pass defense, but if Carolina can get Nicks isolated on inexperienced CB Brandon Hogan, it’ll connect on a couple of long plays downfield.

Getting Nicks the ball will be QB T.J. Yates, who started the opener, missed half the year with a broken ankle, and closed the regular season with a sharp effort against Duke. The Heels need him to be on the money once again to have success against a Mountaineer defense that has no stars, yet is ninth in the nation in scoring D.      

North Carolina will win if... it dominates the turnover margin, much the way it has all season. Peeling back the onion on the Tar Heels’ regular season reveals that they were plus-18 in their eight wins and minus-12 in their four losses. While they don’t yet have an air-tight defense, it can seem that way when S Trimane Goddard and CB Kendric Burney are picking off passes to end drives. It’s going to be a challenge for Carolina against West Virginia, which has done a fantastic job of protecting the ball throughout the year.    

West Virginia will win if... it controls the line of scrimmage on offense. For the Mountaineers, the game will be won or lost at the point of attack. If it can move a deep and talented Carolina defensive line off the ball, White, Devine, and the rest of the West Virginia playmakers will spend most of the afternoon in the Tar Heel secondary. If, however, they can’t get a push, the ‘eers will be forced to lean more heavily on a passing game that ranks 109th in the country. For those who love blue-collar football, the battle between Ryan Stanchek and the Mountaineer O-line and Marvin Austin and the Heel D-line qualifies as can’t-miss viewing. 

What will happen
: North Carolina has lived off the turnover all season long. The problem for the Heels in this match up is that West Virginia has only coughed the ball up 14 times in 12 games, and generally plays a low-risk style of offense. The difference in an otherwise even game will be White, the most dangerous player on the field when the game is on the line. He’ll snap off one of his patented 50-yard scampers through the Carolina defense in the second half, capping a brilliant career with a fitting finish.  
Line: North Carolina -1 ... CFN Prediction: West Virginia 27 ... North Carolina 23 

- 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More