Many casual observers may take North Carolina's 1-5, 0-3 ACC record at face value and assume that the Eagles have an easier out this weekend down in Chapel Hill. However, the Tar Heels' 2013 record doesn't tell the whole story.
The Heels, which are coming off a close 27-23 loss to Miami on Thursday night, have played one of the country's toughest schedules at the midpoint of the season. Jeff Sagarin rates North Carolina's schedule as the fourth most difficult in the nation through eight weeks, behind only Ole Miss, Georgia and Washington. North Carolina started ACC play by playing each of the three other Coastal Division contenders this season, falling to Georgia Tech (28-20), Virginia Tech (27-17) and Miami (27-23). In none of those conference losses did North Carolina play particularly poorly. In fact, UNC was in each of those games and held leads at various points in the game.
However, even if North Carolina's record doesn't tell the whole story, after digging itself into an 0-3 hole in conference play, the Heels have quickly gone from chic Coastal Division darkhorse pick to needing wins in five of its final six games to even qualify for a bowl. North Carolina will have an opportunity to do just that as the second-half schedule lightens considerable, starting with this weekend's home game vs. Boston College.
Despite North Carolina's 1-5 start to the season, I don't think it should come as much of a surprise that the Tar Heels come into Saturday's matchup with Boston College as more than a TD favorite. The early college football lines for week 9 are out with the Wynn Las Vegas installing the Eagles as an 8-point road underdog.
Boston College has not had much success in recent seasons against teams from the Coastal Division. In the last 10 games against teams from the other side, the Eagles are just 3-7. Overall BC is 11-13 in regular season games vs. Coastal Division opponents since division play began, but is an even .500 against rotating Coastal Division teams (8-8).
The Eagles are searching for their first win over the Heels as a member of the ACC. North Carolina is the only ACC team that BC is winless against since joining the league in 2005 (0-3). North Carolina's Kenan Memorial Stadium is also the only ACC stadium where the Eagles have never won.
2009: North Carolina 31, Boston College 13 (UNC +3)
2008: North Carolina 45, Boston College 24 (UNC -3)
2005: North Carolina 16, Boston College 14 (UNC +4)
UNC leads the all-time series 4-2.
Other week 9 lines of note:
- Coming off a 51-14 home loss to Florida State, Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC) is a 13.5 point road favorite this weekend at Maryland (5-2, 1-2 ACC)
- Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0 ACC) is a 13-point home favorite as the Hokies host the Duke Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2 ACC)
- USC (4-3, 1-2 PAC-12) is a 6.5-point home favorite this weekend vs. Utah (4-3, 1-3 PAC-12)
- Miami (6-0, 2-0 ACC) is a 21-point favorite at home vs. Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2 ACC), and this isn't even the highest point spread in the ACC this week. That honor goes to ...
- ... Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC), which is giving 29.5 (!) points to visiting N.C. State (3-3, 0-3 ACC)