Heels move up in CFP rankings; FiveThirtyEight says they have chance to make field

By R.L. Bynum

Could Carolina really make the College Football Playoff? It seems crazy to think about, considering that the No. 13-ranked Tar Heels probably won’t be in the top 10 when the updated CFP rankings that come out Tuesday night.

FiveThirtyEight is saying there’s a chance, but the scenarios that put the Tar Heels in the field don’t look likely.

UNC will move up two spots to No. 13 in the updated CFP rankings announced Tuesday night.

According to FiveThirtyEight, if the ACC Coastal Division champion Tar Heels (9–1, 6–0 ACC) beat Georgia Tech (4–6, 3–4), N.C. State (7–3, 3–3) and Clemson (9–1, 7–0), they would make the playoff if Tennessee (9–1), USC (9–1), LSU (8–2) and Michigan (10–0) all lose another game.

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In that scenario, FiveThirtyEight suggests that the Tar Heels would have a 40% chance of making the playoff, which would be the fourth-highest behind Georgia, Ohio State and TCU.

The problem, though, is that the Vols will be heavy favorites at South Carolina (6–4) and Vanderbilt (4–6). USC plays at UCLA (8–2) and at home against Notre Dame (7–3). LSU plays UAB (5–5) and Texas A&M (3–7) and then Georgia (10–0) in the SEC championship game. Michigan plays Illinois (7–3) at home and at Ohio State (10–0).

In a scenario where Carolina wins out, Tennessee, USC and LSU lose but Michigan beats Ohio State, FiveThirtyEight has the Vols and Tar Heels tied for the fourth-best chances of making the playoff at 43%.

Carolina can’t control how all of those other teams perform, but if the Tar Heels win their last three games and the ACC title, they are guaranteed at least an Orange Bowl berth. If Clemson wins the ACC championship game, it will likely go to the Orange Bowl and the Heels may end up in the first of the two Orlando bowls (the Dec. 29 Cheez-It Bowl).

First up for UNC, though, is needing to beat Georgia Tech at 5:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).

Carolina’s CFP ranking history

2015 season
Nov. 10 (second ranking) — No. 23
Nov. 17 — No. 17
Nov. 24 — No. 14
Dec. 1 — No. 10
Dec. 6 (selection day) — No. 10
2016 season
Nov. 1 (first ranking) — No. 21
Nov. 8 — No. 17
2020 season
Nov. 24 (first ranking) — No. 19
Dec. 1 — No. 17
Dec. 8 — No. 17
Dec. 15 — No. 15
Dec. 20 (selection day) — No. 13
2022 season
Nov. 1 (first ranking) — No. 17
Nov. 8 — No. 15
Nov. 15 — No. 13


DateMonth/dayTime/scoreLocationOpponent
(current rank)
TV/
record
August
27SaturdayW, 56–24HomeFlorida A&M1–0
September
3SaturdayW, 63–61BooneAppalachian State2–0
10SaturdayW, 35–28AtlantaGeorgia State 3–0
24SaturdayL, 45–32HomeNo. 19
Notre Dame
3–1
October
1SaturdayW, 41–10HomeVirginia Tech 4–1, 1–0 ACC
8SaturdayW, 27–24Miami
Gardens, Fla.
Miami 5–1, 2–0 ACC
15SaturdayW, 38–35DurhamDuke6–1, 3–0 ACC
29SaturdayW, 42–24HomePittsburgh7–1, 4–0 ACC
November
5SaturdayW, 31–28CharlottesvilleVirginia8–1, 5–0 ACC
12SaturdayW, 36–34Winston-SalemWake Forest 9–1, 6–0 ACC
19SaturdayL, 21–17HomeGeorgia Tech 9–2, 6–1 ACC
25FridayL, 30–27,
2 OTs
HomeN.C. State 9–3, 6–2 ACC
DecemberACC championship
3Saturday8 p.m.CharlotteNo. 10 ClemsonABC

Photo via @UNCFootball

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