For once in the last 24 years, I am happy about where the Tar Heels football team is, and I feel good about the rest of the season moving forward. The defense is performing better than it has in the last decade. The offense may be the best the Tar Heels football program has seen since the turn of the century. We may finally get an ACC Title to put in the trophy case. Could College Football Playoffs be in our future?
I'm not entirely sure what I expected from Syracuse, but I did not expect our defense to hold them to just seven points. They've been a solid team all season, putting up an average of 31.5 points against FBS opponents coming into the weekend, and their defense had only allowed 21+ points once against Clemson. Seeing a defensive performance like that as we enter the back stretch of the season gives me confidence that we have a real shot at the ACC Title this year.
The offense has been firing on all cylinders all season long, and this is the type of offense that would be competitive in the College Football Playoffs. Drake Maye is dialed in with one of the highest pass completion percentages in the nation (#13 of QBs with 100+ attempts). Omarion Hampton is an absolute dog that spends time in the weight room. It seems like he easily gets 2-3 yards after contact. Finally, we have Tez Walker as another weapon for Maye to utilize. By all accounts, this may be the best offense the Tar Heels have seen since the turn of the century.
Looking at the remaining games this season, the expectation is for the Tar Heels to win out. Miami showed they bleed this last weekend after losing to Georgia Tech. Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Campbell should be givens, but I will never count out either Virginia or Georgia Tech because they are prone to pulling a win against Carolina out of their hindends every few seasons. Duke will be a competitive game, but they have shown they can bleed like Miami. Clemson is my biggest worry, and only because they are playing in Death Valley. If that game were in Chapel Hill, I would not have a problem saying the Heels would walk away from that game with a win. Finally, we will travel to NC State, who will also be competitive.
Looking beyond the regular season, Florida State is the likely opponent in the ACC Title Game, but Louisville is heating up at the right time. Oddly enough, all three teams have the potential to win out, and we could have three teams from the ACC that finish the regular season undefeated, which will be interesting for determining which two teams compete in the ACC Title Game.
If the Heels win the ACC Title game and beat an FSU team ranked in the Top-4, we could realistically put ourselves in the College Football Playoffs. Michigan or Ohio State has to lose, which will put one of them out of the playoff picture if Georgia, FSU, and Oklahoma remain undefeated. We saw how far Oklahoma jumped this weekend after beating Texas, and you'd have to imagine if we beat Miami, Clemson, and FSU, that would be a good enough resume to put us in the College Football Playoffs.
Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but there is a path. We could actively be witnessing the best Carolina Football Team the program has ever seen. But one game at a time right? For now, we can look forward to hosting Miami in what is sure to be a good game.