UNC falls in Top 25 ahead of ACC title game; what are Heels’ bowl projections?

By R.L. Bynum

North Carolina and Clemson head into Saturday’s ACC championship game in Charlotte trying to rebound after home losses to rivals that dropped both in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

The Tigers (10–2) fell three spots to No. 10 after a 31–30 Saturday upset loss to South Carolina and the Tar Heels (9–3) dropped six spots to No. 24 following a 30–27 double-overtime loss to N.C. State for their second consecutive home defeat.

The Gamecocks are ranked in November for the first time since 2013 at No. 20, but the Wolfpack still is unranked.

UNC fell five spots to No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches poll, with Clemson No. 11, South Carolina No. 20 and N.C. State unranked.

Clemson and Carolina had hoped — although the chances were remote for UNC — to make the College Football Playoff, but the ACC title and an Orange Bowl berth await the winner of the 8 p.m. game (ABC). Projections suggest that the opponent in the Orange Bowl would be either Tennessee (10–2), which moved up two spots to No. 7, or Alabama (10–2), which moved up two spots to No. 6.

Bowl projections for UNC include:

— The Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl in San Diego against No. 17 UCLA (projected by collegefootballnews.com) or No. 15 Oregon (ESPN’s Mark Schlabach); both are 9–3
— The first Orlando bowl (Cheez-It) on Dec. 29 against 7–5 Texas Tech (CBS Sports and ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura) or 7–5 Oklahoma State (247Sports).
— The Dec. 31 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville against 6–6 Arkansas (Projection

Three teams behind UNC in last week’s AP poll lost and fell out of the poll:

— Mississippi (was No. 20 before a 24–22 loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl)
— Cincinnati (was No. 21 before a 27–24 loss to Tulane)
— Coastal Carolina (was No. 23 before a 47–7 loss to James Madison.)

The only other ACC team in the poll is Florida State (9–3), which jumped from No. 16 to No. 14 after a 45–38 victory over Florida.

Voting UNC the highest at No. 16 was Chris Murray of Nevada Sports Net, with Mike Vorel of The Seattle Times ranking it No. 18.

Joe Giglio of WCMC (99.9 The Fan) had Clemson No. 9, Florida State No. 11, N.C. State No. 22 and Carolina No. 23. David Thompson of the Fayetteville Observer had Clemson No. 10, Florida State No. 13, UNC No. 22 and Pittsburgh No. 23.

Steve Wiseman of The News & Observer was one of 31 voters who left UNC off their ballots. He had Clemson No. 10 and Florida State No. 15.

AP Top 25

RankTeamChangePoll points
(1st-place votes)
1Georgia (12–0)1,570 (58)
2Michigan (12–0)+11,516 (5)
3TCU (12–0)+11,449
4USC (11–1)+11,382
5Ohio State (11–1)-31,313
6Alabama (10–2)+21,243
7Tennessee (10–2)+21,195
8Penn State (10–2)+31,131
9Washington (10–2)+31,048
10Clemson (10–2)-3928
11LSU (9–3)-5874
12Utah (9–3)+2849
13Kansas State (9–3)+2815
14Florida State (9–3)+2730
15Oregon (9–3)-5701
16Oregon State (9–3)+6662
17UCLA (9–3)618
18Tulane (10–2)+1551
19Notre Dame (8–4)-6384
20South Carolina (8–4)358
21Texas (8–4)+3316
22UCF (9–3)+3170
23UTSA (10–2)145
24North Carolina (9–3)-6114
25Mississippi State (8–4)99

Others receiving votes: Troy 80, North Carolina State 62, Cincinnati 43, Boise State 39, Purdue 24, Ole Miss 22, South Alabama 12, Illinois 10, Coastal Carolina 6, Pittsburgh 5, Fresno State 4, James Madison 4, Ohio 2, Minnesota 1. Point values in parentheses indicate the number of first-place votes.

Photo via @UNCFootball


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