The drive for Carolina's seventh-straight winning season rests in the final five games. At 3-4, UNC would have to win three of its last five to secure bowl eligibility. The good news is there are no monsters on the schedule like there were in the first six games; on the other hand, there are no real lemons either. Here is a look at how the remaining five teams on UNC's schedule made out this week and where their seasons stand:
at Virginia (4-3, 2-1 ACC Coastal): The Cavaliers dropped a tough 20-13 decision at Duke on Saturday. Only twice in seven games have the Cavaliers surrendered more than 21 points. UNC will certainly be the most prolific offense they have seen this season, but the Wahoo defense is more stout than Georgia Tech's. Carolina has finally appeared to shake their Charlottesville curse but it will not be an easy task to keep the momentum from Saturday's win going. See Paul's preview for more information on the Hoos.
at Miami (4-3, 1-2 Coastal): The Hurricanes were off this week in preparation for a Thursday night tilt with Virginia Tech. Brad Kaaya has had a strong rookie campaign and Duke Johnson will be a handful and while Miami is not frightening defensively, they are undefeated at home this season including a win over Duke.
Pitt (4-3, 1-2 Coastal): Nearly a month will have passed before Carolina returns to the friendly confines of Kenan Stadium for a homecoming date with Pitt thanks to two road games and a second open date. Pitt snapped their own three-game losing streak with a grind it out, derp-fest win over Virginia Tech. Pitt is hard to read, with a couple of solid wins and a couple of head-scratching losses. Pitt will have faced Georgia Tech and Duke prior to coming to Chapel Hill but will also be coming off a bye week so no advantage gained for the Heels.
at Duke (6-1, 2-1 Coastal): Duke slipped UVa in a defensive struggle on Saturday. Duke is playing like the defending Coastal Division champion, the slip at Miami notwithstanding. After a laughably easy non-conference schedule, Duke has ground out two wins in three tries in league play, but they do know how to win those close games. Duke and Carolina will play on a short-week Thursday with the Devils having faced Virginia Tech just before UNC.
NC State (4-4, 0-4 ACC Atlantic): After a promising 4-0 start and 3 good quarters against Florida State, State has dropped four in a row and hasn't been within two touchdowns of an opponent since,including Saturday's 30-18 loss at Louisville. The Pack is still searching for its first ACC win under Dave Doeren and their road doesn't get any easier, with a trip to Syracuse and a home date with Georgia Tech waiting the next two games after an open date this week. There is an outstanding chance that State could come to Chapel Hill with both teams having five wins and bowl eligibility on the line.
Remaining opponent records: 22-14
The schedule is not imposing but it is not a clear path either. Carolina will have to win 3 of 5 reach bowl eligibility, meaning they will need to hold serve at home and steal one win of the three games on the road. Doable, but expect plenty of stomach-churning along the way. Of course the media will keep talking about what a disappointment UNC is given the pre-season ranking but we all knew that was garbage to begin with. Like last season, climbing out of a 2-4 hole to make a bowl is good work. UNC now just has to learn to avoid the 2-4 (or 1-5) start.