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College Football Week 5: Teams Tar Heels should root for this weekend

No need to figure out who to root for when UNC isn’t on; we’ve got you covered.

Sideline shot of Tar Heel players, coaches, and fans cheering Featured image via UNC Athletic Communications via

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 each TV time slot and call out individual teams Tar Heels should root for, whether that be for rivalry reasons, strength-of-schedule implications, or playoff and NY6 positioning. I’ll even list the TV information for your convenience and the point spread so you know how likely a win is (and how hard to root).

I cannot think of a better time to launch this than the bye week, when your TV1 has no Tar Heel obligations.

Teams Tar Heels should root for are in bold.

Thursday Night

Temple (+3.5) at Tulsa (7:30 PM ET on ESPN)

I won’t lie and tell you that this Thursday G5-on-G5 violence is going to make too much impact on the Tar Heels one way or another. But! I will tell the truth and tell you that no other college football games this Thursday will impact Carolina at all. Therefore, tie goes to Temple, as the Owls are coming off a drubbing at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes. Should Temple appear competent and win, they will marginally boost Miami’s resume. That will make October 14th even better for the Heels when they beat The U for the 5th year in a row.

Lions (-1.5) at Packers (8:15 PM ET on Prime Video)

This one is simple: Antoine Green, beloved Tar Heel, is a backup receiver for the Detroit Lions. Meanwhile, the Packers have refused to roster even a single UNC alumnus this year. Does that make Green Bay an enemy of the school?


Friday Night

Louisville (-3) at NC State (7:00 PM ET on ESPN)

Ahem, well… this one seems self-explanatory. Moving on.

Utah at Oregon State (-3) (9:00 PM ET on FS1)

One thing that this game has in common with the previous entry: neither team is one of our rivals. One key difference: this PAC-12 matchup could play a role in resume-based jockeying for NY6 bowls at the end of the year. The ACC pecking order will shake itself out one way or another on the field, but the Heels are in a beauty pageant with the top PAC-12 teams. It’s best for UNC if the west coast conference cannibalization continues this week with Oregon State snatching Utah’s undefeated record just one week after losing their own at Washington State.

Saturday (Early)

Penn State at Northwestern (+27) (Noon ET on Big Ten Network)

USC at Colorado (+21.5) (Noon ET (???!) on Fox)

Here the Heels are rooting for a couple longshot underdogs, Northwestern and Colorado, who each host one of the big fellas in their respective conferences (and participants in the beauty pageant discussed above), Penn State and USC. I would never tell you these upsets are likely, but you should be rooting for them.

One note on the first game: a Northwestern win would somewhat absolve Minnesota for their pretty disastrous loss last week, which would be nice while we are playing the resume game.

One note on the second game: USC and Colorado are kicking off at Noon???! 10 AM local???! 9 AM where USC is from???! An absurdly early kickoff won’t hurt if we’re hoping things get weird. (We are.)

Louisiana at Minnesota (-11) (Noon ET on Big Ten Network)

Speaking of disastrous Minnesota losses, I’ve got a message for our Gopher friends: Don’t make it two in a row.

Clemson at Syracuse (+6.5) (Noon ET on ABC)

I want Carolina to take Cuse’s loss-column-zero so bad. We’ll have a chance if the Orange can beat Clemson at home/Dome.

Saturday (Midday)

Georgia at Auburn (+14.5) (3:30 ET on CBS)

If we are talking resume games, Georgia losing would be the biggest momentum shift in any single week the rest of the season. A regular season Georgia loss would nearly guarantee the SEC does not get two teams into the playoff field this year. That’s why Carolina fans should root for Auburn. Fans of chaos should root for Auburn — the historic chaos team — because the possibility that the two-time reigning champions miss the playoffs would suddenly become real. Actually real.

Michigan at Nebraska (+17) (3:30 ET on Fox)

Basically, reread the last paragraph but using Big Ten teams. And take out the championships part.

Kansas (+16.5) at Texas (3:30 ET on ABC)

Indiana (+14) at Maryland (3:30 ET on Big Ten Network)

Showing some love to a couple basketball school underdogs on the road, here. Indiana winning would stick it to an ACC defector and weaken the Big Ten overall. Besides helping in the postseason pageant, Kansas winning would be one of the funniest results in years. Funnier than the last time Kansas beat Texas (2021), or the time before that (2016), because Texas is actually good this year. I know Kansas is currently undefeated, too, but, c’mon, it’s Kansas.

Saturday (Primetime)

LSU (-2.5) at Ole Miss (6:00 PM ET on ESPN)

When UNC beats Florida State in the ACC title game, we are going to want that transitive win over LSU to be worth as much as possible.

Oregon at Stanford (+27) (6:30 PM ET on PAC-12 Network)

I doubt anyone reading this post even gets the PAC-12 Network, but still: undefeated non-ACC team losing to the funniest team possible in their conference — future All Coasts Conference mainstay, the Stanford Cardinal — warrants a spot here. That would get some clicks, Coach Lanning.

Iowa State (+20) at Oklahoma (7:00 PM ET on FS1)

Ditto above, but you might actually be able to watch it.

Notre Dame (-6) at Duke (7:30 PM ET on ABC)

No, I will not put one of these schools in bold. This is a no-win situation for UNC fans. Watch at your digestion’s own risk.

South Carolina (+12) at Tennessee (7:30 PM ET on SEC Network)

South Carolina getting a sizeable road win at Tennessee would be a nice boost to (the real) Carolina’s best non-con win. I would also advise rooting for the over (62.5 points).

Pitt (-2.5) at Virginia Tech (8:00 PM ET on ACC Network)

The Tar Heels just beat Pitt solidly, but not without some early discomfort. It would not be ideal for them to turn around and lose to the worst Virginia Tech team of my lifetime.

Saturday (After Dark)

Washington at Arizona (+18.5) (10:00 PM ET on PAC-12 Network)

The college football media and public at-large have begun hopping on the Washington bandwagon in bunches. The Huskies should take care of business at Arizona, but this is the last year of #PAC12AfterDark and crazier things have happened involving that hashtag.

I hope I’ve given you Tar Heels a helpful guide as you align your rooting energies for Saturday. Are there any other teams you’re pulling for this weekend? Drop them in the comments.

Remember, if we all root really hard, we can affect the games.