It’s not common that we discuss the University of North Carolina football team this time of year. Usually, that talk is about the men’s and women’s basketball teams with football being a distant afterthought. Well this year, both are being discussed as the football program is vying for an ACC championship this Saturday against top-ranked Clemson. Even with a victory, will that be enough to put the Tar Heels in the college football playoffs?
North Carolina is 11-1 on the season and has won 11 in a row after falling in the season opener to South Carolina. They currently rank 10th in the College Football Playoff Rankings. The three teams directly in front of UNC (Florida State, Notre Dame and Stanford) all have one thing in common; they all have two losses. Now it appears that neither of these teams should be ranked in the top 10, let alone ahead of a team with just one loss. To add on to that, UNC is 8-0 in the conference and is playing for the ACC championship, yet two other ACC teams are ranked ahead of them. This is college football where things aren’t as simple as they would seem to be.
There is a reasoning that the Tar Heels are behind these three teams in the rankings. Stanford has beaten two ranked teams and is playing for the Pac 12 championship this weekend. Notre Dame has defeated three ranked opponents, but does not have a conference championship to play for. Florida State is coming off a big victory over No. 18 Florida. North Carolina doesn’t have a quality win this season unless you count a pair of victories over Pitt (8-4) and Miami (8-4).
Now back to whether or not Carolina can sneak into the College Football Playoffs. You would think that beating the best team in the country, according to the Playoff Selection Committee, would catapult the team to the playoffs, but not so fast. Carolina is going to need a ton of help even with a victory. Oklahoma is in. Alabama is in with a win. The winner of the Big 10 championship game between Iowa and Michigan State will be in. That leaves just one spot remaining which could go to the loser of the Big 10 championship game or Ohio State, who currently ranks 6th.
As of now the Tar Heels are not going to be in the playoffs. If they are victorious this weekend, it will raise some interesting questions and discussions, but ultimately will not be enough to put the team from Chapel Hill into the College Football Playoffs.