The North Carolina Tar Heels did not exactly live up to expectations last year. They went just 7-6 in the second season under head coach Larry Fedora in 2013. They were a completely different team in the first half than they were in the second. After dropping five of their first six games, including an embarrassing 31-55 home loss to East Carolina, they started to play up to their potential.

Indeed, the Tar Heels would go on to win each of their next five games, including an emphatic 80-20 victory over Old Dominion. They did lose to Duke by a final of 25-27 in the regular season finale, but came back to throttle Cincinnati 39-17 in the Belk Bowl. The end result saw them winning six of their final seven games to carry some serious momentum into 2014.

That’s especially the case with 15 starters back. While they do lose their No. 3 career passer in Bryn Renner, they have eight starters back on offense. Marquise Williams played well in place of the injured Renner last year. He threw for 1,698 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also rushing for 536 yards and six scores. TJ Logan had a fine freshman season with 533 rushing yards while averaging 5.7 per carry. They do lose tight end Eric Ebron to the NFL, but four of the top five pass-catchers are back.

The defense was respectable last year in allowing 24.5 points per game. This unit played much better in the second half of the season, holding five of their final seven opponents to 20 or fewer points. Seven starters return on this side of the ball, but they do lose leading tackler Tre Boston (94 tackles, 5 INT) and top pass rusher Kareem Martin (82 tackles, 11.5 sacks). Those two will be difficult to replace. Linebacker Norkeithus Otis (49 tackles, 7.5 sacks) is a special one who could come close to matching Martin’s numbers this year.

The Tar Heels have actually been one of the better recruiting teams in the country. They rank 22nd in recruiting over the past 10 years. They have ranked 29th over the last three years, and they were right on par with that in 2014, coming away with the No. 29 class heading into the season. They only trail Florida State, Miami and Clemson in recruiting within the ACC.

Last Season
ACC Coastal
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2014 Schedule
2014 North Carolina Tar Heels Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
8/30 Liberty
9/6 San Diego State
9/20 @ East Carolina
9/27 @ Clemson
10/4 Virginia Tech
10/11 @ Notre Dame
10/18 Georgia Tech
10/25 @ Virginia
11/1 @ Miami
11/15 Pittsburgh
11/20 @ Duke
11/29 NC State
Estimated Wins: 8.98

The Tar Heels get their two easiest non-conference opponents at home and their two toughest on the road. They open with Liberty and San Diego State at home followed by trips to East Carolina and Notre Dame. They will only be an underdog in one of those four games, and a slim dog at that.

North Carolina draws NC State and Clemson from the Atlantic Division. It does have some very tough conference road games at Clemson, Miami and Duke, but it should have no problem dismantling Virginia away from home.

This team figures to be a double-digit favorite in every conference home game this year. The Tar Heels welcome Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and NC State to Chapel Hill. That game against the Hokies on October 4 could very well decide the Coastal Title.

Most of the lines to the right in the schedule table are from the Golden Nugget. As you can see, they are very high on the Tar Heels in 2014, listing them as a double-digit favorite a whopping eight times. I certainly won’t be backing this team much against the spread because they are clearly overvalued ATS.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
ACC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
12 to 1
110 to 1
Season Predictions

It was a tale of two seasons for the Tar Heels last year. It’s amazing to think that they were 1-5 at one point with the way they finished the season, closing 6-1 for a 7-6 record. However, their toughest opponents all came in the first half, while their easiest came in the second.

Many are expecting big things from North Carolina in 2014 due to that finish that has created some serious momentum. Couple that with 15 returning starters, and Fedora’s squad is a legitimate contender to win the Coastal Division this year.

The offense exploded once dual-threat QB Marquise Williams took over last year, and he is among eight returning starters on that side of the ball. The defense was fortunate to only give up 24.3 points per game last year because they allowed 403 total yards per contest. With seven starters back, they should be better on D as well.

I just think that the ACC schedule is too tough to win the Coastal considering the Tar Heels have to travel to face Clemson, Miami and Duke. Even if they win their home game against Virginia Tech, I still think the best that they finish is 6-2 within the conference, which will leave them in second place. With that said, I see them having no problem winning nine games, which will easily eclipse their 7.5-win total. Bet the over on the Tar Heels in 2014.

2014 Projections
ACC Coastal
ACC Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
Over 7.5
More College Football Predictions
Atlantic Division
Coastal Division
North Carolina
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