For the second time this season, the Tar Heels have had an adjustment made to their 2020 schedule. On Monday afternoon, it was announced by the Miami Hurricanes football program that they were going to have to miss this week’s scheduled game Georgia Tech due to positive COVID-19 test and subsequent contract tracing. With that, the Hurricanes will now take a two week hiatus, pushing the Georgia Tech game to the end of their schedule on December 19th, and pushing their final two scheduled games back a week.
That means that the Tar Heels originally scheduled game with the Hurricanes will now be played on December 12th and as a result, the game scheduled for the previous day with Western Carolina has been moved up, meaning that game will now officially be played barring any COVID-19 related issues.
This is an interesting scenario for the Tar Heels who will now have a different finish to the season than they had planned. Ultimately, though, this is a huge benefit to the Tar Heels. With the switch, the Tar Heels now avoid the extremely demanding Notre Dame-Miami back-to-back that would have been a huge test for this defense in the span of eight days. The defense gets a week off to regain their legs and maybe some added reinforcements who may return from injury before facing the Irish in Kenan Stadium and will now have a very winnable game in between that game and the Miami game that could allow the defense to rotate in some depth players and get some more rest for the starters before a tough finish to the season against the Hurricanes in Miami. Both of those games will be very physical ones on both sides of the football, as well, so this will be a nice break, especially for the guys in the trenches.
The hope for the Tar Heels is that the added time will allow for guys like Kyler McMichael and Brian Anderson to be healthy enough to return to action for what could very well be a game that decides who plays in the ACC Championship the next week. The Tar Heels have to take care of business against Notre Dame on November 27th, but this does make the narrow road to the ACC Championship Game much more manageable if enough things can break the right way.
When you look at the road to the ACC Championship, one thing is certain: the Tar Heels will need to win out. That will be much easier said than done, but the good news is that the higher ranked of the two opponents, the No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, will have to come to Chapel Hill.
There are two obstacles for the Tar Heels, though, beginning with the need for the Fighting Irish to lose another game besides that meeting in Chapel Hill on November 27th. The final two games for them of the season are a home game with Syracuse and a road trip to Winston-Salem to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The best chance for the upset clearly in the game against Wake Forest, but ESPN FPI still give the Irish a 79.3% chance to win that game. The other obstacle is one that Tar Heel Tribune writer R.L. Bynum talked about in an article that goes all little more in depth on the possibility that Miami may not be ready to play the Tar Heels by December 12th, forcing the game to be cancelled all together. We won’t too in-depth into that scenario as we encourage you to go read R.L.’s piece on that where he explains it, but the hope is that it won’t get to that point and the good news is is that the majority of the teams that have had to miss games this year due to COVID-19 issues, have been able to return relatively quickly. This is unfortunately just a waiting game with this situation, however.
Believe it or not, the Tar Heels, despite disappointing losses to Florida State and Virginia, still have a chance to play for an ACC Championship Game. The Tar Heels will need some help, but there is still hope that the Tar Heels could be heading to Charlotte if enough things break right.