By R.L. Bynum
If bowl projections are accurate, it’s looking more likely that North Carolina’s bowl destination will be Charlotte for a game against South Carolina.
After only three of 11 projections early last week had UNC headed to Charlotte, six now predict the Tar Heels to be in the 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 30, game (ESPN) at Bank of America Stadium against South Carolina.
Three of the projections updated from early last week went from predicting that Carolina would play in the Pinstripe Bowl to projecting a game against the Gamecocks in Charlotte: Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, Steven Lassan of athlonsports.com and collegefootballnews.com.
That means more than half of the projections have the Tar Heels playing in the Charlotte game (Duke’s Mayo Bowl.) All the bowl bids will go out Sunday.
It would be the second time in three seasons that UNC has met South Carolina in Charlotte. In Sam Howell’s career debut on Aug. 31, 2019, North Carolina beat South Carolina 24–20.
Like UNC, the Gamecocks, under first-year coach Shane Beamer, went 6–6 and lost their regular-season finale to their rival. Clemson won last Saturday in Columbia, S.C., 30–0.
The Tar Heels have played in the Charlotte bowl four times, under various corporate names, losing to Boston College 37–24 in 2004, West Virginia 31–30 in 2008 and Pittsburgh 19–17 in 2009 before beating Cincinnati 39–17 in 2013.
South Carolina’s last postseason game was its lone appearance in the Charlotte bowl in 2018 when the Gamecocks got blown out 28–0 against Virginia.
Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura of ESPN, as well as profootballnetwork.com and si.com, hadn’t updated their projections as of Saturday morning.
Early last week, Schlabach had UNC facing Penn State in the Dec. 29 Pinstripe Bowl, Bonagura saw the Tar Heels meeting Central Florida in the Fenway Bowl, profootballnetwork.com had UNC facing Western Kentucky in the Dec. 23 Gasparilla Bowl and Richard Johnson on si.com saw Carolina meeting Arizona State in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl.
Jerry Palm’s updated projection on cbssports.com still has UNC meeting Western Kentucky in the Gasparilla Bowl.
UNC bowl projections
— Brett McMurphy on actionnetwork.com, Joe Giglio of WCMC (99.9 The Fan), Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, Steven Lassan on athlonsports.com, Brad Crawford on 247sports.com and collegefootballnews.com: Charlotte, 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 30 (ESPN), vs. South Carolina
— Mark Schlabach on espn.com: Pinstripe Bowl in Bronx, 2:15 p.m. Dec. 29 (ESPN) vs. Penn State
— Jerry Palm on cbssports.com and Cam Mellor on profootballnetwork.com: Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Fla., 7 p.m., Dec. 23 (ESPN) vs. Western Kentucky
— Kyle Bonagura on espn.com: Fenway Bowl in Boston, 11 a.m. Dec. 29 (ESPN) vs. Central Florida
— Richard Johnson on si.com: Sun Bowl, 12:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, Arizona State
Photo via @UNCFootball