9. North Carolina loses to N.C. State
On one hand, the North Carolina Tar Heels are even less of a threat to Tennessee football than Penn State. After last week’s loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and with no quality wins, it’s hard to make a case for them right now. This is why they fell to No. 17 in the CFP rankings. Could they end up jumping the Vols?
Well, it’s possible. That won’t happen this weekend regardless of what they do against the N.C. State Wolfpack. However, what happens after that makes it absolutely crucial that they lose this weekend, and playing N.C. State at home is not as much of a given as people might think.
Since UNC has two losses while N.C. State has four, N.C. State is no threat to the Vols. UNC will face the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship game a week later. To remove all doubt, the Vols will need Clemson to lose that game, which we’ll get to on an other slide.
If Rocky Top needs UNC to beat Clemson, though, then they need UNC to lose beforehand. After all, Clemson is a quality win, and then UNC would have two losses but an ACC Championship and no losses as bad as UT’s to South Carolina. Taking that into account, while the Vols still have the edge, UNC will have a case. Again, you want to leave no doubt.