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College Football Week 9: Teams Tar Heels should root for this weekend

No need to figure out who to root for when UNC isn’t on (or even when they are); we’ve got you covered.

Duke v North Carolina Photo by Peyton Williams/Getty Images

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 on your behalf. 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).

Not going to lie, folks, we should’ve rooted harder last week. It’s a team effort week-in and week-out; last week we failed as a team. Still, it’s a long season and there are more games to come. We’ve gotta right the ship and get to rooting. So batten down the hatches and man the sails; the seas are choppy but we’re all aboard together.

One more note before we begin: basketball season is here. Everyone knows we are a ba—…dass, everything school, so it’s only right if I help you direct your rooting on the hardwood. This will be especially helpful when the college season begins, but I’ll help you keep tabs on games involving NBA Tar Heels*, as well (nationally-televised games only, to save all our sanities).

*Tune back into on Friday to read an NBA Heels round-up.

Anyway, ahoy, onward, all that…

Teams Tar Heels should root for are in bold.

Thursday Night

Syracuse (+3) at Virginia Tech (7:30 PM ET on ESPN)

After last Saturday’s debacle, the Tar Heels are going to take resume points wherever they can find them. Remember how nice things were back when they routed Syracuse 40-8? Well those memories will be even fonder — and Carolina’s resume even stronger – if Syracuse finishes out the year with a respectable record. Virginia Tech is one of the more winnable games left on the Orange’s schedule, so let’s hope they win it.

No NFL Tar Heels in Thursday Night Football action this week but, like we said, there are some alums in the Association to keep an eye on:

Philadelphia 76ers (+6) at Milwaukee Bucks (7:30 PM ET on TNT)

Phoenix Suns (+1.5) at Los Angeles Lakers (10:00 PM ET on TNT)

The Sixers are an easy choice, as they employ legendary Tar Heel Danny Green. However, while the Suns roster includes Nassir Little, it’s also infested by Grayson Allen. Root for our guy Nassir to prosper, and for less-likable Ted Cruz to record his first of many DNP [Coach’s Decision]s.

Friday Night

It’s the final week of regular season football in North Carolina, so the Friday Night Lights are brighter than ever. I was checking out the Charlotte Observer’s statewide rankings when I noticed something that really ground my gears. The #1 school in the NCISAA Division 1 (basically the group for big private schools) is the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School of Rabun Gap… Georgia. Now, it makes sense that Rabun Gap-Nacoochee is #1 somewhere, as they sit at 10-0 a week after defeating previously undefeated Providence Day. What doesn’t make sense is why that where is in North Carolina. Sure, they’re located in northern Georgia just across the border from western NC and a mere three hours from Charlotte, but they’re still located in a whole ‘nother state! I’m not sure if most folks even realize Georgia borders North Carolina. As proud (present, former, or future) residents of the Tar Heel state, we should all root for these invaders to lose whenever possible. This week, that means rooting for the Cannon School of Concord, NORTH CAROLINA.

Warriors at Kings (10:00 PM ET on ESPN)

Harrison Barnes revenge game.

Saturday (Early)

Florida State (-20.5) at Wake Forest (Noon ET on ABC)

Now that the Tar Heels can no longer turn in an undefeated season of their own, we are officially rooting to take a transitive undefeated season from Florida State in the ACC Title Game. That means we need the Noles to win and win big for the rest of the regular season.

Oklahoma at Kansas (+10) (Noon ET on Fox)

While we want to preserve the ACC’s undefeated team, we should root for the opposite in other conferences. This one is for Roy Williams. Side note: could Lance Leipold be the next Kansas to UNC crossover coach when Mack eventually retires? I would not hate it.

Indiana (+32) at Penn State (Noon ET on CBS)

Penn State is not undefeated but they are still ranked ahead of us. Plus, we want to erase the argument that the Big Ten is just sooooo good with a potential three-way tie at 11-1 down the line. I will concede that you should not devote too much energy to rooting for Indiana football. Hoosiers fans sure don’t:

South Carolina (+14.5) at Texas A&M (Noon ET on ESPN)

I’ve mostly given up on the Cocks as a resume line item, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ a direct win is still better than a transitive win (via Miami).

Clemson (-10) at NC State (2:00 PM ET on CW Network)

When we go to Clemson in 3 weeks, it will be difficult to win. Clemson is a team better than its record with a deadly homefield advantage. Let’s root for the Tigers to start winning again so we can get some credit for that game from casuals.

Saturday (Midday)

Georgia vs Florida (+14.5) in Jacksonville (3:30 PM ET on CBS)

Grab a drink and get ready for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. While few folks outside of Gainesville are predicting a Florida win, drunker things have happened in rivalry games.

BYU (+17.5) at Texas (3:30 PM ET on ABC)

Texas isn’t quite undefeated but they’re darn close. Get ‘em outta here.

Oregon at Utah (+6.5) (3:30 PM ET on Fox)

We’re splitting hairs here, but Oregon feels like the bigger threat down the line. Utah is the king of cannibalizing the PAC-12 and we could use their services here (with a loss or two of their own in future weeks).

Duke at Louisville (-4) (3:30 PM ET on ESPN)

Logic would dictate we root for Duke — a Duke win would strengthen the Heels’ schedule, clear their path to the ACC title game, and generally adhere to the principles we’ve so carefully outlined over the several-week history of this blog. Yet, rooting is, by definition, irrational, and I cannot condone Duke support. Root for Louisville here and figure the rest out later.

Michigan State at Minnesota (-7) (3:30 PM ET on Big Ten Network)

I sure hope you didn’t watch the disgusting Iowa-Minnesota affair, but the Gophers came through for us last week! Let’s hope they do it again (and that it’s somewhat more aesthetically pleasing).

Virginia at Miami (-19) (3:30 PM ET on ACC Network)

Judge us at our best, not our worst.

Southern Miss at App State (-17) (3:30 PM ET on ESPN+)

And let our (second) worst be not that bad.

Saturday (Primetime)

Please, PLEASE save up as much rooting energy as you can for 8:00 PM ET (and the ~3.5 hours that follow). The Tar Heels need to be rerouted by rooting this week against Georgia Tech. If you’re an Atlanta Heel, I encourage you to check out Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday. If you’re a Couch Heel, here are some of the other teams you can support on TV:

Washington at Stanford (+26.5) (7:00 PM ET on FS1)

This could be Stanford’s first HUGE contribution to the ACC.

Ohio State at Wisconsin (+14.5) (7:30 PM ET on NBC)

And this could be Phil Longo’s last contribution to UNC.

Vanderbilt (+24.5) at Ole Miss (7:30 PM ET on SEC Network)

And this would be a nice time for Vanderbilt to embrace high-level football and knock off another quasi-contender in front of UNC.

Saturday (After Dark)

Oregon State at Arizona (+3.5) (10:30 PM ET on ESPN)

As has well been established in this space, we root for PAC-12 cannibalization. Often, that entails rooting for some long-odds underdogs. This time, however, Arizona is only getting a short 3.5 points. Doesn’t it feel like Oregon State should be favored by more than a touchdown on a neutral field? For the non-gamblers among us, this is what we call a rat line: a trap laid by Vegas meant to entice you into betting a favorite at a number there’s “no way they won’t cover”. Of course, the favorite doesn’t always lose in these instances, but, of course, Vegas does always win in the long run. This game is one to watch, is all I’m saying.

Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns (10:00 PM ET on NBA TV)

All the same moral dilemmas from Thursday night around Little and Allen will haunt you into the wee hours of Sunday morning.

San Jose State at Hawaii (+10.5) (11:59 PM ET on Fubo? I think?)

But your soul will be settled by the morally straightforward act of rooting for the Rainbow Warriors to defend their home turf. If you can find it.

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.