The Meineke Car Care Bowl, featuring North Carolina from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pittsburgh from the Big East Conference, will be played at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 26 at 4:30 p.m. EST and will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Tar Heels finished fourth in the ACC's Coastal Division during the regular season and the Panthers tied for second in the Big East.
Tickets are on sale now and are available through Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone, online at www.ticketmaster.com and the Bank of America Stadium Ticket Office. Upper level seats begin at $35. Luxury Suite and Hospitality Suite packages are also available through the Bank of America Stadium Ticket Office or by calling 704-358-7800.
North Carolina (8-4 overall, 4-4 ACC) completed the season by winning four of its last five games and defeated five bowl teams – Connecticut, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College. The Tar Heels have won five consecutive games against ranked opponents dating back to last season, including victories at then 14th-ranked Virginia Tech and versus then No. 12 Miami in a three-week span this year.
This marks North Carolina's second consecutive trip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl and the first time the Tar Heels have made back-to-back bowl appearances since 1997 (Gator) and 1998 (Las Vegas).
"Our program is excited for the opportunity to play in back-to-back bowl games and make a return trip to Charlotte," said North Carolina head coach Butch Davis. "Our players are excited to continue their season and play so close to home. We had tremendous fan support at the game in 2008 and we will need that again this year against an outstanding Pittsburgh team."
Pittsburgh (9-3 overall, 5-2 Big East) enters the Meineke Car Care Bowl ranked 17th in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Panthers won nine of their first 10 games, beating four bowl schools – Navy, Connecticut, Rutgers and South Florida. Their three losses came by a combined 11 points.
This represents Pittsburgh's second-ever visit to Charlotte for the postseason after playing in the 2003 Continental Tire Bowl and 26th all-time bowl game.
"Our program is excited to play another football game and have the opportunity to potentially earn a 10th victory," said Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt. "Playing a national ESPN television game against a quality ACC opponent is a great opportunity, and we are looking forward to the challenge."
This will be the seventh-ever meeting between North Carolina and Pittsburgh but the first in the postseason. The two teams last played in 2000. However, the head coaches are very familiar with one another. Davis and Wannstedt worked together as assistant coaches at Oklahoma State (1979-82), University of Miami (1986-88) and Dallas Cowboys (1989-92).
"We feel that the matchup of North Carolina against Pittsburgh will be a very exciting and competitive game," said bowl executive director Will Webb. "It is also a great benefit for fans from both schools to be in close proximity to Charlotte and be able to travel to the game easily. The 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl will have a great atmosphere for the teams and fans alike."
A tailgate party and pep rally will take place before the game from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be interactive games and rides, live entertainment, team appearances, cheerleader and team band performances, merchandise, food, beverages, sponsor giveaways, face painting and more.
"We are excited about hosting the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina this year," said Bank of America Stadium operations manager Scott Paul. "The game has become one of the most successful bowls in the country, thanks to the efforts of Raycom Sports, the City of Charlotte and the people at Meineke Car Care Centers. Everyone takes great pride in the game, and there is a history of closely contested games."
The Meineke Car Care Bowl has averaged more than 62,000 fans in its seven years of existence. The 2008 game produced the bowl's third sellout with a crowd of 73,712, which ranked fourth in total attendance for all bowl games behind only the BCS National Championship, Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.
|2002||Virginia 48, West Virginia 22|
|2003||Virginia 23, Pittsburgh 16|
|2004||Boston College 37, North Carolina 24|
|2005||North Carolina State 14, South Florida 0|
|2006||Boston College 25, Navy 24|
|2007||Wake Forest 24, Connecticut 10|
|2008||West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30|
|* Known as the Continental Tire Bowl from 2002-04.|