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).
Last week, I tenderly grabbed your hand and led you through the bye week. You were so brave and together we made it. Now, we begin Chapter 2 of the Tar Heels’ season. While the Heels play at 3:30 on Saturday and you should certainly put that game on TV1, there are lots of other fun goodies worth watching throughout the weekend. Folks, we’ve gotta root really hard this week.
Teams Tar Heels should root for are in bold.
But first, I must apologize to Conference USA for publishing this blog on the Thursday following your Wednesday night showcase (Jacksonville State at Middle Tennessee; FIU at New Mexico State). Your league kicks off FIFTY (50!) straight days of FBS and NFL football tonight, and for that, we here at Tar Heel Blog applaud you with great gusto. But schedules are schedules and even in college the weekend starts no earlier than Thursday night, so unfortunately I can acknowledge you no further. For the record, I was rooting for you all to play well, stay safe, and have fun.
Western Kentucky (-6) at Louisiana Tech (8:00 PM ET on ESPNU)
Tonight is night 2 of weeknight CUSA-palooza, and it’s tough to find a rooting angle. Sure, Liberty beat Bowling Green so a win at home against Sam Houston would make Georgia Tech’s blowout loss to the Falcons marginally less disgusting? I guess? Frankly, I am not moved.
Something (definitely not someone; some thing) that does move me: Big Red.
You’re going to tell Big Red you’re rooting against the Hilltoppers? I certainly won’t and I’d argue no Tar Heel should.
Bears at Commanders (-6) (8:15 PM ET on Prime Video)
Did you catch Sam and Dyami making plays last week like they were back in Kenan Stadium?
Let’s root for more of that. Plus, the Bears exiled our sweet baby boy, Mitch Trubisky, for the crimes of winning a playoff game, making a pro bowl, and taking home the NVP trophy. Quarterbacking competently is close to a capital offense in Chicago. At this point, UNC should declare war on half of the NFC North.
I’ll say what many are afraid to: I kind of agree with Ross Martin.
Friday nights are for high school football.— Ross Martin (@RossMartinNC) September 29, 2023
It's an utterly disgusting move by N.C. State & the ACC to schedule the Wolfpack in BACK-TO-BACK Friday night games.
Think about the kids.
Support your local high school team. Friday Night Lights, baby.
Alas, this is (nominally) a college football post, so here’s some B1G flotsam:
Nebraska (+3.5) at Illinois (8:00 PM ET on FS1)
Look, don’t watch this. Like actually, don’t. Not even because of the high school football thing, but because I need you to respect yourself. You will gain nothing but a tarnished dignity by watching this game. Still, if you are going to ignore my warnings and watch some of the worst offense $100 million in TV money can buy, root for Nebraska. Carolina’s non-conference conquest Minnesota did beat the Huskers in Week 1, after all.
By the way, you can attend this game for as low as $7, according to ESPN. That might be cheaper than your local high school game, and close to the same quality, too.
Oklahoma vs Texas (-6.5) in Dallas (Noon ET on ABC)
Look, you can be relatively neutral in this game; in fact, that might be the most fun approach. Both teams are undefeated and this game could get pointsy. Sane fans will just enjoy the Red River show.
I am not sane. And I kind of get the sense that the more Texas keeps winning, the more likely UNC and Mack Brown are to have a consequential showdown with (and retribution against) Coach’s interloping former lover. Tar Heels should root for that fate as long as possible, which means rooting for Texas here. I’m not superstitious, I’m superstish-ish. (You thought I was going to plagiarize Michael Scott, huh?)
LSU (-5.5) at Missouri (Noon ET on ESPN)
It didn’t work last week, but we’re running it right back with LSU. Again, beating FSU in Charlotte will mean more if LSU wins a bunch of games. This would be a pretty big one, as Mizzou has the SEC’s best non-conference win. Who’d have thunk it?
Boston College (+3) at Army (Noon ET on CBSSN)
For the ACC, please don’t lose to the troops.
William and Mary at Virginia (No spread that I can find ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) (Noon ET on ACC Network)
For the ACC, please don’t lose to the Tribe.
Marshall (+6.5) at NC State (2:00 PM ET on CW Network (lol))
Make me laugh, Thundering Herd
This is the window that UNC plays in (3:30 PM ET on ESPN), so you’ll have to stay vigilant. Still, there are some interesting angles to follow.
Washington State at UCLA (-3) (3:00 PM ET on PAC-12 Network)
We continue to root for PAC-12 cannibalization, which would be bolstered by UCLA taking down the undefeated Cougars just two weeks after themselves losing to Utah. If all four of you that both A) read this blog, and B) receive the PAC-12 Network could report back to the rest of us, that would be great.
Virginia Tech at Florida State (-23.5) (3:30 PM ET on ABC)
While the worst Virginia Tech team of my lifetime did ragdoll Pitt last weekend (grumble, grumble), that down-the-line ACC Title win we keep talking about would look a lot worse if the Hokies do the same to the ‘Noles.
Wake Forest at Clemson (-21) (3:30 PM ET on ACC Network)
Speaking of down-the-line ACC games, it hurts the Heels if Clemson takes a third conference loss now. We don’t want wee Wake Forest to go into Death Valley and truly end the Tigers’ season. No, we want Clemson to be 8-2, riding high, with their home crowd on fire when the Tar Heels come to throw a bucket of water on ‘em. Let’s root for these games to really count.
Alabama at Texas A&M (+1.5) (3:30 PM ET on CBS)
With Miami — future for-the-fifth-straight-time losers to Carolina — having already beaten the Aggies, the Heels stand to get a nice transitive bump if A&M can win as narrow home dogs. Plus, there’s a good chance another loss knocks Alabama out of title contention, which is always a pleasant surprise.
UConn at Rice (-9.5) (5:00 PM ET on ESPN+)
Boy, wouldn’t it be funny if State’s best non-conference win was 0-6 after getting wrecked by food?
Kentucky (+15) at Georgia (7:00 PM ET on ESPN)
No, I do not think Kentucky will go into Georgia at night and knock off the Dawgs. In fact, I’m probably about to go risk my own income on Georgia minus the points. However, as we outlined last week ahead of the Auburn game, a Georgia loss is great for chaos and good for the Heels. Besides, it’s okay to root for Kentucky — we’re not playing basketball.
Michigan at Minnesota (+19) (7:30 PM ET on NBC)
Gopher buddies, please, if you can do one thing right all season (big if), do it Saturday night.
Notre Dame at Louisville (+6.5) (7:30 PM ET on ABC)
As long as Louisville is going to be fraudulently undefeated, we might as well root for them to beat this voting member of the ACC in a non-conference matchup. Y’all, I really do not like Notre Dame.
Georgia Tech at Miami (-21) (8:00 PM ET on ACC Network)
Miami, you don’t have to lose to Georgia Tech. You’re better and more patient than that. You can wait one more week to lose. Did I mention that will make it 5 straight?
Saturday (After Dark)
Oregon State at Cal (+9.5) (10:00 PM ET on PAC-12 Network)
We’re rooting for the ACC over the PAC-12 here, simple as. Cal, how about you make like your Beaver foes and do the dam thing?
Arizona (+21.5) at USC (10:30 PM ET on ESPN)
It’s #PAC12AfterDark. We can always hope (and root).
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.