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Music City Bowl: UNC 30, Tennessee 27 -- Things That Actually Happened Tonight

Yes, Derek, it happened again.
Yes, Derek, it happened again.

It's hard to remember that the Music City Bowl was shaping up to be a pretty boring game. About 20 minutes of game time passed between when North Carolina took a 17-14 lead and Tennessee scored to take a 20-17 lead. At that point, any thoughts of the game being boring went out the window, as:

  • Tennessee misses the point after.
  • On the following drive, UNC is flagged for three penalties in six plays before turning the ball over on downs when Dwight Jones dropped a perfect pass.
  • Tennessee runs the clock down to less than 40 seconds before kicking the ball.
  • North Carolina's T.J. Yates then hits Todd Harrelson on a 28-yard pass. Janzen Jackson hammers Harrelson on a helmet-to-helmet hit that adds 15 yards onto the pass.
  • With seconds left on the clock, North Carolina runs a draw with Shaun Draughn.
  • The clock runs out as UNC tries to spike the ball and run the field goal team onto the field at the same time.
  • An official announces that the game is over. Tennessee players rush the field, elated that they have put together a winning season in Derek Dooley's first year at the helm.
  • Wait. The officials decide to review the last play.
  • The review shows that North Carolina had too many players on the field -- well, yeah, they were trying to run the field goal team out there -- but had clocked the ball with 1 second left. The time is put back on the clock for the team that was penalized and the five yards is marched off.
  • Casey Barth makes the 40-yard field goal for North Carolina at the end of regulation.
  • A Tennessee player roughs Barth, which means that UNC starts overtime at the Tennessee 12.
  • The two teams trade touchdowns in the first overtime.
  • In the second overtime, Tyler Bray is intercepted on the fourth play of Tennessee's drive.
  • Barth kicks the winning 23-yard field goal on second-and-goal.

All of which might be a little easier to accept -- football is sometimes a bizarre game of luck, after all -- if Tennessee had not gone through something very similar against LSU earlier this year. The Volunteers haven't gotten a break in years, it seems, and this game is just another installment in a run of bad luck.

It wasn't all bad for Tennessee. Hey, they had won for about five minutes. Despite the pick, Bray and WR Justin Hunter showed why the future is bright for Derek Dooley's team in Knoxville. And there has to be a limit on the number of times a team can lose games like this. Or at least, you would think there has to be a limit.

But it's probably hard for Tennessee fans to think about much of that right now. Just when it seemed like the program was getting up off the mat, chaos delivered another swift kick in the teeth.