Duke's Mayo Bowl: North Carolina vs. West Virginia

By Lee Wakefield

Bowl season, each of these games has a mind of its own. Every game has its own traditions, things to watch out for, and pageantry. The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is no different! Which other game’s winning coach gets enormous tubs full of mayonnaise dumped over them?!

Gatorade… Nah. Duke’s is supplying the goods in these parts. This might only be the fourth-ever Duke’s Mayo Bowl but it’s definitely made its mark on college football in that short time.

Where and When

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Date: 27th December 2023

Time: 5:30 pm (ET)

Story so far…

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North Carolina has had a lot of eyes on the programme this year, courtesy of being the home of one of the best quarterbacks in the college ranks in Drake Maye.

Maye has opted out of this bowl game to give himself as much time to prepare for life in the NFL as possible. However, to be perfectly honest, the Tar Heels’ season has been somewhat underwhelming, even with Maye on the roster. Simply put the defense was poor by Power-5 standards – They ranked 75th in FBS in total defense rankings, only 19 Power-5 programmes ranked lower than UNC. That is a lot to overcome even for the best QB prospects.

The team’s 8-4 record wasn’t a bad one by any means but midtable in the now-conference-free ACC was almost certainly not what was planned. Improvement will be required next season… North Carolina will also be looking to improve their record in this particular bowl game in the immediate future. UNC has 5 previous appearances in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl (and under its previous names) and has a 1-4 record.

West Virginia comes into the game with a similar vibe. They also finished with an 8-4 record, which led to a midtable finish in the Big XII.

Neal Brown, in his fifth season in Morgantown, has a 30-29 record but has improved the programme to a degree. 8-4 is their best record under his guidance. 

The Quarterbacks…

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As mentioned Drake Maye isn’t suiting up for this one. This means Redshirt Freshman QB, Conner Harrell will take Maye’s place at Bank of America Stadium. Harrell is pretty much an unknown quantity at this stage of his career, for obvious reasons Mack Brown played Maye whenever he could. Harrell has 4 completions for 71 yards and a touchdown in three games in 2023, purely garbage time reps. This one is a chance for him to stake a claim to be the starter next year. This game could be a real look to the future for UNC since they’ll also be without star receiver, Tez Walker for this one too.

On the other side, Garrett Greene of West Virginia is coming to the end of his third season as a starter for the Mountaineers. Greene is an undersized playmaker, who is a threat through the air and a big threat on the ground. Me saying threat on the ground might actually be understating it a little… Greene had 13 rushing touchdowns to 15 passing scores. UNC is going to have to account for all eleven players on every single play.

Prospects to watch…

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Myles Murphy, Defensive Line – A former four-star recruit to UNC who is a homegrown, North Carolina product, has NFL size (6 ‘4, 310 lbs), and has had a solid career at the college level. Murphy is an experienced player with longevity, who has 51 games for the Tar Heels under his belt. Aside from Maye and Walker, Murphy is the best draft prospect who will be appearing in the bowl game.

West Virginia

Zach Frazier, Interior Offensive Line – Frazier was injured in WVU’s final game of the season so he may not play in this game but he is a center prospect with a great anchor, good processing ability, and value as a puller in the run game.

Sean Martin, Defensive Line – Martin is a big-bodied defensive lineman who can cover a range of alignments and has power and some pop when he gets off the ball and into a guard’s chest. Martin can get after a passer a little bit and might be the sort of guy a defensive coordinator feels he can mould into something. 


Considering Maye’s absence and the inexperience that UNC will be fielding in his stead, I’m going to lean towards West Virginia here. Garrett Greene feels like the kind of player who will play with freedom in this kind of environment. He could take over the game and bag the MVP trophy… Just don’t be a Graeme Mertz, if that happens, Garrett! 

North Carolina 10 – West Virginia 31

Lee Wakefield