MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Orange Bowl: No. 5 Texas A&M (8-1) vs. No. 14 North Carolina (8-3), at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida, Saturday, 8 p.m. EST (ESPN).
Line: Texas A&M by 7 1/2.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Texas A&M has an opportunity for eight straight wins (in the same season) for the first time since putting together a 10-game winning streak in 1998. North Carolina can finish with nine wins for only the second time since 1997; the Tar Heels were 11-3 in 2015.
The chess match between coaches — North Carolina’s Mack Brown and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher. They’re two of the six active coaches with national championships and the only ones to go head-to-head so far in bowl season; that would change if Alabama’s Nick Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney see each other again in the national title game, also at Hard Rock Stadium, on Jan. 11.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Texas A&M: QB Kellen Mond. He’s responsible for 92 touchdowns (71 passing, 21 rushing) in his career with the Aggies, just one away from Johnny Manziel’s school record of 93 (63 passing, 30 rushing).
North Carolina: QB Sam Howell. With running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams (a combined 2,385 yards and 28 rushing TDs between them) both opting out, the Tar Heels will almost certainly rely even more on their quarterback.
FACTS & FIGURES
Hard Rock Stadium expects to be at about 20% of its capacity, so that would mean about 13,000 fans would be socially distanced inside the stadium for the game. ... It’s the second Orange Bowl for Texas A&M (the first was Jan. 1, 1944) and the first for North Carolina. ... Jimbo Fisher was 2-0 in Orange Bowls and 6-0 overall at Hard Rock Stadium when he coached Florida State. ... Mack Brown was 10-4 against Texas A&M when he coached Texas. ... With Carter and Williams out, and excluding Howell, North Carolina comes into this game with no running back having carried the ball for more than 65 yards this season. ... Youth has been served at Texas A&M in 2020, with 30 of its 36 touchdowns this season coming from freshmen and sophomores.
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