Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tar Heels still in running for Atlanta

Chick-fil-A Bowl officials haven’t eliminated North Carolina from consideration for the game’s coveted ACC slot.

But bowl president Gary Stokan didn’t sound encouraging Tuesday as he talked about the Tar Heels’ prospects after their 41-10 loss last week to N.C. State.

“The Tar Heels certainly didn’t improve their chances with us with the loss to the Wolfpack on Saturday,” Stokan said.

Before consecutive losses the last two weeks to Maryland and the Wolfpack, North Carolina was high on the Chick-fil-A wish list. But now the Tar Heels need to win at Duke on Saturday to finish 8-4 overall and 4-4 in the ACC to have a slight chance at a Chick-fil-A Bowl bid.

Even then, their chances don’t sound good. Stokan said he is seeking the most competitive team possible to meet an SEC opponent in the Dec. 31 game in Atlanta.

He said bowl officials would be more inclined to pick a team that’s 5-3 in the ACC. Florida State and Georgia Tech are 5-3. The Boston College-Maryland winner also will be 5-3. Miami can get to 5-3 with a win Saturday at N.C. State, and Virginia Tech will be 5-3 if it defeats Virginia.
“Certainly we like teams that are ranked,” Stokan said. “We like teams that are playing their best football.”

The Chick-fil-A bid is highly sought because the bowl picks first from available ACC teams after the conference champion gets selected by the Orange Bowl.

North Carolina remains one of eight teams under consideration for the ACC’s slot in the Gator Bowl, which chooses after the Chick-fil-A.

Other bowls with ACC ties, in order of selection, are the Champs Sports, Music City, Meineke Car Care, Emerald, Humanitarian and EagleBank bowls.

– Ken Tysiac