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UNC Football: Tar Heels picked third in preseason ACC poll

The media projects the Tar Heels to just miss out on a return trip to the ACC Championship Game.

ACC Championship - Clemson v North Carolina Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Another benchmark on the road to the 2023 college football season was passed on Tuesday. Yesterday saw the release of the ACC’s preseason media poll for this upcoming season.

In a year of change for the ACC, the North Carolina Tar Heels were picked to finish third in the conference in 2023.

UNC finished only behind traditional conference powers Clemson and Florida State, and also received five first-place votes, which was also the third most. While they finished a ways back of Florida State for second, they were comfortable ahead of fourth placed NC State.

As you may recall, this is the first year of the new ACC format, where the league is without divisions. Under the new format, the top two teams in final standings will play in the conference championship game. Therefore, UNC is picked to finish just outside of a return trip to Charlotte for the ACC title game. Under the old format, they would’ve been picked to repeated as Coastal Division winners.

If the top three in this poll hold to form, Carolina would have a chance to theoretically play their way into a top two finish, as they’ll go to Clemson to play the Tigers on November 18th. Besides that, the Tar Heels have to play several other of the projected top half, as they’ll face all of NC State, Miami, Duke, and Pitt this season. They do play two of the three teams picked to finish in the bottom three, but one of them — Georgia Tech — beat the Tar Heels last season.

There are plenty of questions surrounding the Tar Heels this season. They’re replacing a coordinator, bringing in Chip Lindsdey to head the offense. The end of last season and the losing streak to end it left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth. That being said, it’s understandable why Carolina ended up as high as they did in this poll. They made the ACC title game last year — even if the division format was still in place — and return an all-everything quarterback in Drake Maye. There’s some good things about this team on paper, even if the schedule, both in and out of conference, looks fairly tough.

Between the new format, and trying to figure out what exactly UNC football will do, this is set to be a fairly fascinatingly season in Chapel Hill.