College Football Preseason Top 25: #20 North Carolina

Al Dannity | Updated Oct 04, 2017

UNC looks well placed to make a charge for the ACC title game and a possible BCS bid in 2010. Al Dannity warns Tar Heels fans to be wary of off the field distractions.

The schedule North Carolina’s schedule is not the toughest on this list but it is still a brutal slate. The Tar Heels open with a neutral site game against LSU in the Georgia Dome, before taking on Georgia Tech two weeks later in a game that could prove decisive in the ACC Coastal Division. A challenging trip to Rutgers completes an unenviable September.

It doesn’t get any easier in October with the visit of Clemson and a crucial road game at Miami. A trip to take on a new-look Florida State and the visit of Virginia Tech makes sure it will be a November to remember. The Tar Heels round off the regular season with relatively stress-free rivalry games against NC State and Duke.

The players Butch Davis has built a defensive juggernaut in Chapel Hill. The 9 returning defensive starters include 6 All-ACC selections from 2009. Seniors Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter will team with sophomore Kevin Reddick once again to form a fearsome linebacking corps. The only College Football betting question on defense surrounds the defensive line where there is an opening at tackle. With All-ACC stars Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn still in place, this line will be in rude health irrespective of who fills the gap.

The offense needs to step up in 2010. The whole of 2009’s impotent starting line-up is back. Not one member of that unit made the All-ACC selection last year but the experience of this unit will surely count for something. The offensive line alone contains three seniors. Success for this team rests on the shoulders of quarterback TJ Yates. Greg Little and Zack Pianalto are two legitimate targets but Yates needs to do a better job of getting them the ball for UNC to enter any serious ACC title discussion. Bettors should also take note that All ACC kicker Casey Barth and punter Grant Shallock are returning starters on special teams.

The forecast The Tar Heels start the year at #20 in Sports Interaction’s rankings but their schedule means there’s no way they’ll finish there. North Carolina will either exceed expectations or plummet into insignificance. The current investigation into possible NCAA rules violations is the kind of distraction that could derail as season. The sheer strength of this defense means I can’t believe that the looming threat of NCAA sanctions will be relevant in 2010.

While banana skins like NC State proved costly in 2009, this veteran outfit won’t be as wasteful in the games it should win. A 6-2 record in conference play might be enough to win the Coastal division but I believe a win against Georgia Tech is vital for the Tar Heels to make the BCS. I like UNC to post an impressive 10-2 record but to just miss out on the ACC title game in 2010.