First things first, the Heels clinch the division title and a spot in the ACC Championship Game with a win or a Pitt loss, so the first order of business is to cheer against the Panthers against Louisville just in case. The last thing in the world UNC fans want is to need a win in the finale against NC State to win the Coastal, so it’s best to wrap things up this weekend.
Nationally, North Carolina needs another weekend of chaos to climb in the College Football Playoff polls, and with the average point spread hovering around 15 points in games featuring teams ranked ahead of the Heels, a few key swing games become the focus for UNC. 12th ranked Michigan is a 2.5 point favorite over Penn State, 13th ranked Utah is a 2.5 point favorite over UCLA, and 15th ranked LSU is a 5.5 point underdog to Ole Miss. Of course in the last game, an Ole Miss win might encourage the committee to put the Rebels in front of the Tar Heels because … well … you know why.
A few toss up games of note also loom large, as 3rd ranked Ohio State takes on 9th ranked Michigan State, #10 Baylor faces #6 Oklahoma State, and 7th ranked Oklahoma goes up against 18th ranked TCU. UNC would like to see an upset in each of those three games, but again, the possibility of a quality loss may keep all six of these teams ahead of North Carolina regardless of this weekend’s outcome.
To avoid a “worst case” scenario, a Boston College loss against Notre Dame is key, as the Irish would absolutely knock North Carolina down a peg in the bowl order should they fall out of the New Years Six picture and into the ACC bowl allotment. An Irish loss and a Florida State win next weekend against Florida would drop the Heels to a Pool 1 bowl, which would be an incredibly disappointing reward for the Coastal Champion.
The Blue Devils are playing for bowl position at this point, and are essentially fighting for three Pool 1 Bowl spots with four other teams. With Pitt being a lock for a top bowl, the easy choice is to cheer against Louisville in order to lesson a bowl’s desire to take the Cardinals over Duke. Also, if you’re into that sort of thing, a Pitt win and a UNC loss could put your rival’s divisional championship in serious jeopardy.
On the flip-side, a UNC loss means a Hokies win, and bowl eligibility for Frank Beamer in his final year. Bowls tend to like those kinds of story lines, and Virginia Tech is probably the only guaranteed sell out outside of Clemson, should they make the College Football Playoff. To be safe, cheer for a Hokies’ loss unless you’re feeling sentimental, which in that case means you’d need to cheer hard for a Syracuse upset over NC State, and a Georgia Tech win over Miami. If the Wolfpack, Cardinals, and Hurricanes keep losing, that’s a good thing. Just, ya know, stop losing yourselves.
And like Tar Heel fans, you’ll want Notre Dame to beat Boston College. The Irish could really mess things up for everyone with a loss. Sorry, BC.
Wolfpack fans are in the same boat as Duke fans, just playing for bowl position. Louisville and Miami losses are great for the Wolfpack, but there’s a real Catch 22 with what’s going on in Blacksburg tomorrow. A UNC win makes it harder for the Hokies to become bowl eligible, which is probably critical for an NC State team that’s not all that exciting as a bowl guest. But hear me out … a Hokies win MIGHT knock you out of a Pool 1 bowl, but it sets up a scenario where the Pack can crush UNC’s dream season, and what’s more of a prize for NC State fans than that? Cheer hard for a Pitt win against Louisville, and cheer hard for the Hokies in Blacksburg against the Tar Heels.
For your own bowl hopes, cheer for a fourth straight Duke loss up in Charlottesville against Virginia. A Pack win and losses by Duke, Miami, and Louisville could wrap up a Pool 1 spot. A Notre Dame win over BC is critical as well, because an Irish loss shrinks those three remaining spots to two, with one definitely going to a bowl eligible Virginia Tech team.
<ctrl-v> Cheer for UNC, Duke, and NC State to lose.