8-0 ACC, 11-3 overall
Coach Larry Fedora
Record at UNC: 32-20 (4 seasons); 66-39 overall (8 seasons)
Offense: 8; Defense: 8
Mitch Trubisky is as good as advertised, or better, in his long-awaited debut as the starting quarterback, the run defense is significantly improved and for the second consecutive season UNC finishes 11-1, wins the Coastal Division and appears in the ACC Championship game. The regular season includes a thrilling season-opening victory against Georgia, a difficult but competitive defeat at Florida State and a convincing win at Miami before another trip to Charlotte for the league title game. Anything beyond that – an ACC championship, a College Football Playoff berth – would be a dream season for the Tar Heels. If they can avoid injuries and fix the run defense, those lofty goals might not be so far-fetched, either.
The offense regresses under Trubisky, the defense continues to falter against strong rushing teams, like Georgia in Week 1, and UNC loses all of its marquee games – against Georgia, at Florida State and at Miami. But that’s not all. The Tar Heels also lose at home against Pitt and against N.C. State on the day after Thanksgiving. That leaves UNC with an underwhelming 7-5 finish in which Larry Fedora and his players find few reasons to be thankful. Such a finish, which seems unlikely barring key injuries or unforeseen failures in positions in which UNC has expressed confidence, would be a colossal disappointment for a program that believes it’s on the rise.
9-3, 6-2 ACC