North Carolina is ineligible to play in a bowl or for the conference championship, but the Tar Heels have a very manageable schedule and can still accomplish plenty in coach Larry Fedora's first year.
Best case: The Tar Heels quickly master Fedora's up-tempo offense and defensive coordinator Dan Disch's scheme. North Carolina gets through the first five games of the year, including tough trips to Wake Forest in Week 2 and Louisville in Week 3, and enters its home game with Virginia Tech 5-0. The Tar Heels continue to get better down the stretch, snapping their five game losing streak to rival NC State. Fedora finishes his first year 10-2, and while North Carolina won't be rewarded with a bowl, it will give Fedora plenty to build on moving forward.
Worst case: North Carolina struggles adapting to Fedora's system, and the Tar Heels are unmotivated without the possibility of postseason play. North Carolina starts 3-3, and later in the year, loses to NC State for the sixth year in a row. The Tar Heels limp down the stretch to a 5-7 year, but luckily, they would not have been eligible for a bowl even if they had gotten that sixth win.
Last year's best case: North Carolina was close multiple times last season, losing by single digits to Georgia Tech, Miami, and Virginia Tech. Quarterback Bryn Renner led the conference in passing efficiency (159.4) and completion percentage (68.3). Freshman running back Giovani Bernard finished third in the ACC in rushing, running for 1,253 yards.
Last year's worst case: Last year's worst case scenario happened as the school fired coach Butch Davis right before preseason practices began and two days after the ACC Kickoff. The Tar Heels were able to regroup and get to a bowl game. There weren't any terrible losses on the schedule, but being shut out by NC State and losing for the fifth year in a row was tough for North Carolina fans to swallow.
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