At the beginning of the season I was convinced we were looking at about a four win season which was just fine since I thought there were more pertinent advances to be made in various intangible areas of the program. However halfway into this season I am looking at a very excusable 2-4 record which includes a win over Miami, a tight game with Virginia Tech and two games UNC was in a position to either win or send to overtime save for one play each. UNC has been competitive in every game they have played except for the matchup with South Florida. The games against Virginia Tech and Miami shows a UNC team that while young, seems to be improving and playing a little less like their age. I also think winning a game like the one against Miami could serve as a watershed moment which gives players confidence and propels the team into a stretch of winning football. Accounting for this plus the upcoming schedule I think one can make a case UNC can possibly snag six wins. After the jump a look at the remaining schedule.
October 13th vs South Carolina
South Carolina has risen to 7th in the polls and comes in boasting the #1 passing defense in the nation. The run defense is decidedly less impressive ranking 99th nationally. Offensively the Gamecocks are good but not great. The bottom line is UNC could have a tough time getting the offense on track and while the Heels’ defense is starting to play with more cohesion I think this is not a game UNC can pull out.
Chances of Winning: 25%
October 27th at Wake Forest
The upside to this game is it comes after a bye week which might be necessary with following a tough game versus SCAR. The downside is this is a road game and Wake Forest seemingly has gotten itself on track after struggling early which was contributed partly to a injury to Riley Skinner. The wrinkle in all of this is the Miami win might give UNC the confidence they need to believe they can win against a team like Wake, especially considering UNC played them close a year ago when the Heels were a decidedly worse team.
Chances of Winning: 50%
November 3rd vs Maryland
I think UNC has a great chance to win this game since it is at home and UNC has shown a penchant for handling teams which struggle offensively. Maryland has had tons of QB problems which may have been resolved in the person of Chris Turner. On one hand Maryland has shown it can win tough games such as knocking off Rugers and Georgia Tech but I also think UNC’s progression as a team will make them a more formindable opponent by the time this game rolls around.
Chances of Winning: 60%
November 10th at NC State
Two things make this game tough for UNC. First the game is on the road in front of a fan base who is sick and tired of losing to UNC and are convinced Tom O’Brien can field a team that can finally do what Chuck Amato could not. The second is the Wolfpack defense is very good despite all the other problems on offense. There is a good chance UNC could have trouble moving the ball and scoring but given how bad the Pack is when they have the ball the same will likely be true for them. Still I like UNC to pull this one out.
Chances of Winning: 80%
November 17th at Georgia Tech
This is probably the worst shot UNC has at winning a game outside the one against SCAR. I would expect GT to be ready for the Heels and their defense is good enough to give UNC problems. Add to that a decent running game and the Jackets should win this one.
Chances of Winning: 30%
November 24th vs Duke
Duke is a bit of an enigma in that they are capable of scoring points in buckets but at the same time still are wholly incapable of winning games despite the one victory at Northwestern. UNC playing Duke in Chapel Hill with the possibility of bowl eligibility on the line? Not a problem.
Chances of Winning: 90%
Obviously this is high speculative. If I bowl eligibility is going to happen I think the wins will be over Wake, Maryland, NC State and Duke. That means the former pair of games will be the crucial ones to win. The NC State and Duke games are still tough games but carry better odds. Then again any number of factors could change how the rest of the season unfolds. Injuries, team confidence rising or alling and just the sheer fact college football is totally unpredictable makes the possibility of UNC going 4-2 over the final six games a crapshoot at best. The bottom line is until UNC loses it’s seventh game of the season, they are in the conversation. The way they have played so far convinces me UNC should be in every game they play and if things can go half as right as they did during the first half versus Miami six wins is possible.