By R.L. Bynum
Carolina enters the season with high expectations but there isn’t much talk about the Tar Heels making the College Football Playoff field.
Pick Six Previews, which sells a preview book, is the exception.
It predicts that UNC will make the CFP as the No. 4 seed, facing No. 1-seed Oklahoma in the first round, with No. 2-seed Georgia facing No. 3-seed Ohio State in the other first-round game.
The website touts itself as being the most accurate at preseason predictions in the last nine seasons.
Pick Six Previews owner Brett Ciancia obviously sees UNC winning the Coastal Division and the ACC title.
“There’s really a lot to like from UNC,” Ciancia said during an appearance Thursday on ACC Network’s “Packer and Durham.” “It starts with excellent recruiting under Mack Brown, now stacking three top-15 classes. The [Larry] Fedora era, they were only able to lock down 10% of the in-state blue-chippers. Mack is locking down 70% of them.
“It’s an excellent offense, great coordinator hires and a defense that’s surging up very quickly,” Ciancia said. “I love UNC to win the conference this year.”
Ciancia sees an opportunity for the Tar Heels to win the ACC with the departure of quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“It seems like a window of opportunity with the changing of the guard at quarterback of Clemson,” Ciancia said. “This is the first time I’ve seen a real legitimate threat from the Coastal Division to challenge Clemson. And it starts with that offense — Sam Howell, a legitimate Heisman candidate, now in his third season. But really the offensive coordinator Phil Longo. He has these Air Raid pass concepts on the outside, but paired with a downhill physical run game in the middle. Five offensive linemen, they’re all back; they’re all NFL-sized and getting high draft grades.”
The oddsmakers aren’t nearly as confident, giving Carolina the 11th-best odds of winning the CFP championship at +5,000, with the best odds going to Alabama (+260), Clemson (+400), Ohio State (+600) and Georgia (+750).
The Sporting News and Athlon Sports don’t have the Tar Heels in the playoff, but predict that they will play in New Year’s Six bowls. TSN has UNC in the Fiesta Bowl against Coastal Carolina and Athlon has the Heels in the Peach Bowl against Florida.
College Football News predicts Carolina will play in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego against Southern Cal.
ACC pool photo