You are not a freak. No, you are a well-adjusted Tar Heel fan, with a nice family and interesting hobbies and lots of other great things going for you, I’m sure. You know you should watch and root for UNC when the Heels are on, but you don’t have the time, energy, nor depravity to figure out all the other college football teams you should root for any given week.
Luckily for you, I am a freak and a Tar Heel fan, so I’ve gone ahead and figured it out for you. Each week, I will go through the list of TV timeslots and call out individual teams Tar Heels should root for, whether that be for rivalry reasons, strength-of-schedule implications, or playoff/NY6 positioning. I’ll even list the TV information for your convenience, as well as the point spread so you know how likely a win is (and how hard to root).
As we did last week, we must show some love to CUSA-palooza for their four games across Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Having football every day of the week is exceedingly special, and so we thank the fine programs of Conference USA and continue to root for their joy and success. Oh right, App State also played Tuesday night in some weeknight Fun Belt action. You’ll, of course, remember our mountain pals from the near-death double OT barnburner last month, so it’s really freaking awesome that the Mountaineers dropped their third of the year to Coastal Carolina.
Nevertheless, we persist.
Teams Tar Heels should root for are in bold.
West Virginia (-3) at Houston (7:00 PM ET on FS1)
West Virginia playing well improves Pitt’s strength of schedule which boosts UNC’s metrics profile by roughly a fraction of a decimal downstream. Yada, yada, yada. Really, West Virginia is just a fun team to root for, with their mountain spirit, catchy singalong, and couch-scented smoky air. Plus, after the App game, we might as well root for ONE set of Mountaineers to get a win. They keep our forest trails safe.
SMU (-12) at ECU (7:30 PM ET on ESPN)
It’s tough to root against fellow Carolina basketball fans, but longtime ACC bonds outweigh all else.
Broncos (+10.5) at Chiefs (8:15 PM ET on Prime Video)
The Chiefs are Heel-less while the Broncos employ Javonte “Pookie” Williams of Miami-body-bagging fame. Support Pookie and the Broncos’ endeavors on the ground. Ideally, Denver wins this one in spite of several humiliating Russell Wilson turnovers.
I genuinely could not find a worthy rooting angle among the Friday night contests offered by the American (Tulane at Memphis), Mountain West (Fresno State at Utah State), nor PAC-12 (Stanford at Colorado). Instead, I’d like to remind you to support your local high school football team. There is no Saturday or Sunday football without Friday night lights.
I hear Sun Valley at Weddington is gonna be a good one.
Georgia at Vanderbilt (+31.5) (Noon ET on CBS)
I don’t need to do the whole “Root for Georgia to lose” thing again. You know you’d love a Vandy miracle.
Indiana (+33.5) at Michigan (Noon ET on FOX)
The same story here for the stripey boys from Bloomington. I might feel differently if this were on the hardwood.
Purdue (+19.5) at Ohio State (Noon ET on Peacock)
Copy à Paste + Trains
Syracuse (+17.5) at Florida State (Noon ET on ABC)
Oh boy, if the team we just dismantled went on to beat the #4 team in the country in their own house one week later? Well that’s quite a nice feather in the ol’ cap, ain’t it? I’m definitely not banking on a ‘Cuse win, but I’m sure as Shrader rooting for it.
Michigan State at Rutgers (-5) (Noon ET on Big Ten Network)
With Virginia Tech messing around and beating Pitt a couple weeks ago, we’d kinda like the Hokies to stop projecting as absolute loserville. Rutgers getting (another!) conference win would probably help a bit. Plus, the Scarlet Knights deserve to go bowling this year and, with States Ohio and Penn looming in November, their chances to qualify are dwindling.
UMass (+42.5) at Penn State (3:30 PM on Big Ten network)
Pray might be a more accurate verb than root, here. I hope your deity of choice likes football (likely) and people from the suburbs of Boston (unlikely).
Oregon at Washington (Over 67) (3:30 PM ET on ABC)
Root for points! I know we joke about PAC-12 cannibalism aiding Carolina’s cause, but you can’t really take a side in this one. Both teams are undefeated with legitimate paths to the playoff, and one is taking their first L either way. Instead, I encourage you to enjoy high-quality offensive displays and remember why we care about college football in the first place.
Cal (+13.5) at Utah (3:00 PM ET on PAC-12 Network)
Still, we want some west coast carnage.
Texas A&M (+3.5) at Tennessee (3:30 PM ET on CBS)
Run those horns because this is the SEC Game of the Week. That means the Aggies will have a big stage on which to bounce back and act competent. Such attention would be helpful in the event of an aTm win; for, surely, many fans, media types, and playoff committee members remember Miami taking the Aggies’ scalp in September. That will play nicely after we ragdoll Miami this Saturday night (for the FIFTH year in a row).
Florida at South Carolina (-2) (3:30 PM ET on SEC Network)
After getting their jaws, arms, and ribs broken over possibly the toughest five game stretch any team will face this season, South Carolina stumbles bleeding into the “easy” part of their schedule. It’s time for the Cocks to start helping the Heels’ Week 1 domination age gracefully.
As you know, the Tar Heels are hosting a primetime party this Saturday against Miami (7:30 PM ET on ABC). This is, of course, the only game that really matters. Win this game (for the *FIFTH* year in a row!!) and we can live with any results elsewhere. Still, we should ponder our preferences.
Louisville at Pitt (+7.5) (6:00 PM ET on CW Network)
Forget about our win over Pitt. We need Lullvull to go ahead and get to losing. Any week would be fine, but this one would be the funniest.
Auburn at LSU (-11) (7:00 PM ET on ESPN)
LSU is in slight danger of making the ACC’s best inter-conference win (FSU over LSU Week 1) look—as the kids say—mid. This would not help the ACC’s perception when postseason slots are being assigned. (No, this will not hurt the SEC’s reputation, silly. Don’t ask me why.) Root for the Tigers (purple and yellow, not blue and orange) to stave off the teens and their terms of disparagement.
USC at Notre Dame (-3) (7:30 PM ET on NBC)
I hate—HATE—to recommend that you root for Notre Dame. Alas, I would be negligent if I didn’t point out how good an Irish win would be for the Tar Heels. USC remains one of those pesky PAC-12 teams with a spotless loss column. Even if their first blemish isn’t within their conference, USC would suffer for UNC’s gain with a loss to Notre Dame. In fact, it might mean even more if the Irish knock off a top-handful team in the PAC-12, seeing as Dook (ACC) played them tough and Louisville (ACC) wrecked them.
And one more thing: we were disrespected for the entire 2022 season based on our problematic defense. I want folks to spit on USC with that same phlegmy energy. I want the polls to reflect it, too.
NC State at Dook (Under 46.5) (8:00 PM ET on ACC Network)
Rooting for sadness and failure is the only moral choice in this game.
Saturday (After Dark)
San Diego State at Hawaii (+5.5) (11:00 PM ET on CBSSN)
Games in Hawaii that stretch well into the hours after Midnight are the Tuesday/Wednesday night games of Saturdays. We must be thankful for Hawaii. We must root for the Rainbow Warriors.
I hope I’ve given you Tar Heels a helpful guide as you align your rooting energies ahead of this weekend. Are there any other teams you’re pulling for? Drop them in the comments below.
Remember, if we all root really hard, we can affect the games.