Loss leaves UNC a bowl long shot
Posted October 18, 2013
Aside from the 27-23 loss to Miami on Thursday night in Chapel Hill, there was heavy collateral damage for North Carolina’s football program.
Now 1-5 overall (0-3 ACC), the odds are stacked squarely against the Tar Heels going to a bowl game in Larry Fedora’s second season.
While there’s not a game left UNC can’t conceivably win – Boston College, Virginia, Old Dominion and Duke in Chapel Hill and N.C. State and Pitt on the road – it’s difficult to envision this error-prone team going 5-1 for a 6-6 finishing record on the back side of the schedule.
Missing a bowl trip wouldn’t destroy this year’s recruiting – assuming, that is, Fedora and his staff can eventually sign their 22 commitments.
But after having been ineligible for post-season a year ago, the new staff had placed a lot of emphasis on reaching at least a mid-tier bowl this season. That’s definitely not going to happen. Even if the Heels can win out for a 7-5 finish, their best hope would be the Belk Bowl in Charlotte (Dec. 28) but more likely the Military Bowl (Dec. 27, Washington/Annapolis).
With senior quarterback Bryn Renner and junior tight end Eric Ebron (projected 1st-round NFL pick) moving out of the program, a dramatic record improvement in 2014 looks unlikely, giving recruiting rivals an significant propaganda windfall.
That Carolina should have won Thursday is obvious.
Miami lost four starters to injuries almost immediately and then committed four turnovers. The Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0) did their part to give the Heels’ season a thrust, but Carolina just wasn’t able to capitalize and now will live with the consequences – possibly all the way to spring drills.
ACC & The Heisman Trophy
It’s still a long shot for both Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Jameis Winston of Florida State, but Saturday’s showdown game in Death Valley should provide at least one of the quarterbacks with enough national exposure to stay in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
Here at WRAL we have two Heisman voters. Sports anchor Jeff Gravley has one and I have one. As the season progresses, we plan to give readers updates on our leanings.
For now, the field of contenders is probably too varied to handicap, although 2012 winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M is likely the early leader.
But Boyd, a senior and last season’s ACC player of the year, and Winston, a red-shirt freshman, are in the chase. The ACC has produced only two winners – Florida State quarterbacks Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000).
It’s interesting that in 1981, when Clemson went 12-0 and won the national title, no Tiger (or any other ACC player) finished in the top 10.
In fact, Yale running back Rich Diana received more voting support, finishing 10th behind winner Marcus Allen of Southern Cal.
Clemson running back C.J. Spiller did finish sixth in 2009, when Alabama runner Mark Ingram won with relative ease.
The ACC’s best voting season was in 1999, when Georgia Tech QB Joe Hamilton was runner-up to Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne with FSU wide-out Peter Warrick taking sixth and Virginia RB Thomas Jones eighth. No. 3 that season was Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick, but the Hokies weren’t yet in the ACC.
And before the formation of the league in 1953, UNC’s nationally celebrated star Charlie Justice finished second twice – 1947 to SMU’s Doak Walker and 1948 to Notre Dame’s Leon Hart with Walker taking third.