With three games down, here is a look at how the remaining 10 opponents on UNC's schedule have done so far:
@ East Carolina (2-1): The Pirates followed up their close loss at SCAR with a huge road win at Virginia Tech. The Pirates jumped out to a big 1st half lead, only to watch the Hokies tie the score. Quarterback Shane Carden then led ECU down the field for the game-winning touchdown inside the last minute and the Pirates are now just outside the Top 25.
@ Clemson (1-1): The Tigers had the week off after destroying FCS South Carolina State on the heels of the tough opening weekend loss to Georgia. Clemson is currently ranked #22 and the hope for Carolina is that the Tigers will have a hangover after playing at #1 Florida State right before facing the Heels.
Virginia Tech (2-1): The Hokies were the flavor of the week after their big win at Ohio State, only to come crashing back to Earth and falling out of the polls after the East Carolina loss. It doesn't get any easier this week for VT as they face Georgia Tech, which is about 180 degrees opposite in offensive philosophy from the Pirates. The good news for UNC is that the loser of that game will already be one game down in the Coastal Division by the time UNC plays them.
@ Notre Dame (3-0): The Irish are ranked in the top 10 and have laid waste to two Big 10 opponents in the past two weeks. The return of QB Everett Golson has the Notre Dame offense clicking while the defense is currently 4th in FBS in points allowed. The advantage for UNC is they are the filling in a sandwich between old Irish rivals Stanford and Florida State and it may be easy to overlook the Heels.
Georgia Tech (3-0): The Jackets have been putting points on the board against a relatively soft schedule but almosthad the #goacc moment of the week in blowing a 25-point lead and had to come from behind to beat a very tough Georgia Southern team last week (hmmm, seems like that's a familiar refrain in the first couple of weeks). Tech is playing the entire Coastal Division in a stretch of six straight games. UNC will be the fourth (after VT, Miami, and Duke) so maybe the trench warfare will have softened up the Jackets a little bit.
Virginia (2-1): Easily the surprise team of the ACC thus far, the Cavaliers were thought to be putrid but followed up a very competitive loss to top-10 UCLA with wins over Richmond and a ranked Louisville team. UVA's rough schedule continues with #21 BYU, Pitt, and Duke before the Tar Heels.
@ Miami (2-1): The Hurricanes rebounded from the opening debacle against Louisville with two decisive wins over lesser opponents. Miami will be tested a number of times before facing Carolina, including games with Nebraska and Cincinnati in addition to Duke, at VT, and at Georgia Tech.
Pittsburgh (3-0): Pitt posted a strong win at Boston College (something USC obviously could not do) and overcame a sluggish first half to down Florida International last week. Both the Panthers and Tar Heels will have had bye weeks prior to this game and it will be the 5th of 6 divisional games for each team.
@ Duke (3-0): The Blue Devils have looked impressive in their opening three games but those wins have come against wretched competition that has a combined record of 1-7. Duke's schedule sets up nicely as they avoid pretty much anyone of note in the Atlantic Division so their season will be based almost solely on how the Devils navigate the Coastal. This is a Thursday night tilt on a short week for both teams.
NC State (3-0): After escaping Georgia Southern and struggling with Old Dominion, NCSU took a very bad South Florida team behind the woodshed last week. After playing their second FCS team of the season this week, the Pack is a near certainty to exceed last season's win total. Then again, after the 4th game last season, State was 3-1 and feeling pretty good but would not win again in 2013. I think it's safe to say with NCSU's improved QB play by Jacoby Brissett, they will not lose their last eight games again. But after this week, State starts a rough four-game stretch that includes FSU, Clemson, BC, and Louisville. Still, State could come to Chapel Hill with bowl eligibility on the line.
Record of UNC's remaining 10 opponents: 24-5
Before you read too much into that stat, take into account the ACC has done pretty well against non-conference competition and the attrition of playing other ACC teams in league play has not started yet. On the other hand, 4 of the 5 opponents' losses are to top-25 teams or teams that have been in the top 25 this season (and the fifth is VT's loss to ECU). Plus UNC's remaining non-conference games are road tilts in difficult environments. And with no clear favorite in the Coastal Division, this could be one of those years where there are a couple of 5-3 teams and we are into the 4th tiebreaker on who gets to go to Charlotte.
In other words, this is a difficult grind from here on out, both inside and outside of league play.