UNC Football: Could the Heels win the Coastal?

When you think of this season’s UNC Football squad there is plenty of good points to consider. And, of course, some points that are not as good… penalties come to mind right away. But in the end, when you stack things the positives far outweigh the negatives, which is great for both the program and for first year head coach Larry Fedora. Carolina (5 and 2 ~ 2-1 in the ACC) is playing well of late after starting the 2012 campaign at 1-2, as both the offense and defense seem to have bought into the new schemes and making them work on both sides of the ball.

Both losses were on the road and without the service of sophomore tail back Giovani Bernard (653 yards on 79 carries with 7 TDs), who right now is 26th in the running back standings (and could be a Top 10 5 back if he had not missed those two match ups). The tail back’s 8.3 yds per carry is second best among all running back in this campaign. And while the “what if’s” are worthless you have to wonder if this squad could still be undefeated had Bernard not been hurt against Wake Forest and Top 25 Louisville. One thing is for sure when it comes to Bernard, he seems to getting better and better with each passing game this season.

While whether or not this squad could be undefeated is something that we will never know. On the flip side of things, there is something that can still be known in this campaign… could Carolina win the Coastal Division, even if the conference would not acknowledge it and the Heels would not play in the conference title game. The offense averaging over 275 yards through the air and 210 on the ground UNC Football is among a very small group of schools that can say to have such high octane offense. But now let’s look at the remaining schedule and see if the Tar Heels could actually get to the top of their division.

This coming week Carolina will head eight miles to Durham to take on Duke (5 and 2 ~ 2-1 in the ACC) at Wallace Wade Stadium, which has the same exact record as the Heels. And just like the Heels the Blue Devils have a loss against a Top 25 program on the road, as they lost to Stanford by the score of 50-13. Duke did beat Wake (34 to 27) on the road, while Carolina lost (28-27) also on the road. On the other hand Duke lost their game against Virginia Tech (41-20), giving up 41 unanswered points, while North Carolina defeated VT (48-34). Only difference is that UNC took this one at home and Duke lost their game to the Hokies on the road. Basically, for as far fetched as this could sound, it’s a UNC/Duke game for control of the Coastal Division.

With the Tar Heels being better in most rankings, with Brenner and Co. getting their job done and the defense clicking as best as it could be, this should be a W for the UNC football program. Both programs have plenty to play for, with the Blue Devils looking to be bowl eligible for the first time in almost two decades and the Tar Heels are fighting to show what they are, even if it will never be shown in anywhere, and of course they are both playing to beat their rivals from down the road. The Vegas odds makers have Carolina as a 10 point favorite against Duke.

In the meantime the top squad in the division, Miami (Fl), will be taking on what should be the best team in the conference, Florida State. If this goes the way most would say, by the time Saturday is over and done the Heels would be 3-1 in the conference while the `Canes would have a 3-2 record in the conference, with North Carolina having beaten Miami by the score of 18 to 14 it’s almost like having a two game lead on Miami (Fl).

The following week UNC will be playing another team from the Triangle, N.C. State, in the friendly confine of Kenan Stadium. In this one you are going to have to wonder which squad will show up to play against the Tar Heels. Will it be the squad that lost to Miami (Fl) or the one that beat FSU? And while, unlike the game against Duke, this might not be an easy feat for the Tar Heels, the good news is that the other team at the top of the division would be playing against Virginia Tech. And that, by no means, is going to be an easy game for the Hurricanes.

In two weeks, if things go as I see them, the prediction would be that the Heels are either 3 and 2 or 4 and 1 in the conference. On the other side, Miami would either be 3 and 3 or 4 and 2 in the ACC.

Finally, the last three games of the season for UNC, coming off a by week, are against: Georgia Tech, Virginia and Maryland. The first two squads having just two wins as of right now, while Maryland being 4 and 2 as of right now, but with a win versus UVa and one to William & Mary by the final of 7 to 6. On the other hand Miami (Fl) last three games of the season would be against Virginia, South Florida and Duke.

This could mean that coach Fedora’s squad could end up with either a record of 6 and 2 at the worst, or 7 and 1 at best. While Miami (Fl) could, at best, finish with a 6 and 2 record. If that is the case UNC would win the head to head, as it would do with Virginia Tech and Duke, if they were to make a move in the last third of the season.

There is a long, long way to go before all of this unfolds and there is no guarantee that this will go as I see it, but for a blogger like myself this is the fun of following a team. Being able to look ahead and guessestimating what could happen down the road is what someone like me enjoys the most. And I feel pretty confident about this as the UNC football program goes up against five teams that have an average overall record of 17 and 15 and a sub .500 conference record of 6 and 8. But, as coaches would say, one game at a time, which means let’s see what the Tar Heels do on the road against the Blue Devils this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. EST (televised on ESPNU).

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