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UNC Cracks AP Poll At #23; Bowl Picture Takes Shape

UNC returns to the AP Top 25 at #23 following the Heels' fourth straight win. UNC started the season at #22 in the poll but was dropped after losing to Georgia Tech in Week 4. Of course that loss was followed by the dark ages of the 2009 season with the inexplicable egg laid against UVa then the 2nd half meltdown versus FSU. Since then the Heels have been impressive to watch, especially on defense. Well actually, almost exclusively on defense though I do have warm fuzzy memories of the offense during the Virginia Tech and Duke games.

In terms of the bowl picture, UNC is still a possibility for the Chick-fil-a Bowl but even that might be a long shot. The Chick-fil-a Bowl picks 2nd with the Gator 3rd, Champs 4th and Car Bowl 5th. The first order of business is cold, vicious, satisfying vengeance on NC State at Carter Finley. Assuming the Heels do that and the rest of the ACC games go as expected here is what the lineup overall standings in the ACC could look like.

1. Georgia Tech 7-1
2. Clemson 6-2
3. Virginia Tech 6-2
4. UNC 5-3
5. Miami 5-3
6. Boston College 5-3
7. FSU 4-4

And here is the same assumption except UNC loses to NCSU(provided for mojo purposes)

1. Georgia Tech 7-1
2. Clemson 6-2
3. Virginia Tech 6-2
4. Miami 5-3
5. Boston College 5-3
6. FSU 4-4
7. UNC 4-4

So quite a bit needs to shake out here. First of all who wins the ACC Championship game influences how the rest of this unfold. If Clemson wins then the Tigers go to the Orange Bowl. That would slot Georgia Tech in 2nd and in line for the Chick-Fila Bowl. However the Yellow Jackets were pummeled in that bowl game last season and a 2nd straight trip might not be desirable for all parties. In the scenario Georgia Tech might end up in the Gator Bowl leaving the Chick-Fila Bowl to choose between UNC, VT and Miami. The Boston College rule permits bowls to move down one spot in the standings so they could skip VT and opt for UNC, especially since VT played in Atlanta to lead off the season. If Clemson loses the ACC title game then the Tigers will go to Atlanta leaving the Gator, Champs and Car Bowl to sort it out between VT, UNC and Miami. If that is the case UNC could sneak past the Hokies for the Gator Bowl though that will be a tough sell given Hokie Fan's reputation of traveling. No matter what, should UNC beat NCSU I do not see them falling further than the Champs Sports Bowl which selects fourth.

Should UNC lose then they would end up with a 4-4 ACC mark and in the mix with FSU and BC for the 5-7 bowl bids which are the Car Bowl, Music City Bowl and Emerald Bowl. I am guessing UNC would end up in the Music City Bowl since it is in Nashville which would be close enough for fans to travel to the game. I doubt the Car Bowl takes UNC for a 2nd straight season though the game would completely sell out so that might be tempting to jump on in this economy. Worse case scenario is the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco which would actually be a great game if USC ends up in the game by finishing 4th 0r 5th in the Pac 10.

All that being said, there is business to finish. The Heels have a date with State and it is now time to put 41-10 to rest.