It sounds like a natural bowl pairing and might still come about, but the odds are beginning to mount against North Carolina facing South Carolina in Atlanta’s Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A game in the Georgia Dome.
With the second pick from the ACC pool of bowl qualifiers, the Chick-fil-A committee will take the Tar Heels (7-3), if they can defeat either N.C. State this weekend or Duke in the Nov. 22 regular season finale. There’s still the chance Carolina could reach the ACC title game and, with a win, go to the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1.
But if the Heels wind up in Atlanta, it’s now more likely they’ll face either Mississippi (6-4 with remaining games against LSU and Mississippi State), Kentucky (6-5 with a game to go against Tennessee) or Vanderbilt (6-4 with games left against Tennessee and Wake Forest).
South Carolina, 7-4 with a game left at Clemson, likely will land in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl in Tampa against a Big Ten opponent (maybe Michigan State or Iowa) if Steve Spurrier’s team can recover from last week’s crushing loss at Florida to defeat the Tigers.