By R.L. Bynum
Mack Brown’s North Carolina team has been fortunate to escape without too much disruption during the football season because of COVID-19. But one scenario could throw a major 2020 curveball at the Tar Heels.
Beating No. 2 Notre Dame on Nov. 27 at Kenan Stadium will be quite a challenge for North Carolina. But suppose the Tar Heels knock off the Irish and Miami and Wake Forest also beats Notre Dame in Winston-Salem on Dec. 12?
Granted, that combination isn’t likely. Few expect it to happen, including me.
But it would give UNC and Notre Dame two losses and give UNC the tiebreaker between the two teams, right?
That’s correct only if both have the same winning conference winning percentage, which is what the ACC will go by to determine which teams will play in the ACC championship game in Charlotte on Dec. 19.
Miami is dealing with a COVID-19 breakout on its team that has led to postponements, including the Hurricanes’ home game with Carolina, which was moved from Dec. 5 to Dec. 12. Miami had two other games moved later: Wake Forest from Nov. 28 to Dec. 5 and Georgia Tech from this Saturday to Dec. 19.
Losing a game against Charlotte earlier this season wasn’t a big deal, particularly considering that the Tar Heels are making that game up with a matchup against Western Carolina. Losing an ACC game might potentially be a big deal.
Suppose that Miami isn’t able to play any more games this season or can’t play all three of its remaining ACC games? That could make mean that the Tar Heels’ final ACC game is that Notre Dame game the day after Thanksgiving. Notre Dame, with losses to UNC and Wake Forest, would likely finish 8-2 in the ACC and UNC 7-2 without playing Miami.
The Irish would get the ACC championship game spot because it would have a better winning percentage.
If the ACC is as nimble as the Pac-12 was last week, the league could fix this problem in that scenario.
If Miami couldn’t play any more games, Georgia Tech also would be without a 10th league game. The ACC could have Carolina play Georgia Tech.
In that scenario, the Yellow Jackets would obviously be an easier opponent than the No. 12 Hurricanes.
It’s all moot, though, unless Notre Dame loses two games in North Carolina. That, again, isn’t a likely scenario.
Pool photo by Robert Willett