This season hasn’t gone as planned for North Carolina, which began with a Top 10 national ranking.
By playing visiting Wofford on Saturday afternoon at Chapel Hill, N.C., it’s a chance for the Tar Heels to send off players in their final collegiate season in a grand fashion.
The Tar Heels (5-5) need one more victory to become bowl eligible for the third year in a row. They finish the regular season Nov. 26 at rival North Carolina State.
Record-setting North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell might sit out because of what has been labeled an upper-body injury. His status is expected to be a game-time decision. Either way, the junior is listed among the team’s Senior Day honorees, suggesting he’ll turn pro after the season.
“He wants to play Saturday, and if he can he will,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “He feels like he will be 100 percent for next week. But he and the doctors will make the decision day-to-day.”
Jacolby Criswell, who’s in his second season in the program, and true freshman Drake Maye figure to take snaps if Howell isn’t on the field.
“You have to get them ready to play,” Brown said.
Wofford and North Carolina are coming off overtime losses.
North Carolina’s 30-23 setback at Pittsburgh officially eliminated the Tar Heels from contention for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division title. Two days later, Wofford fell 45-44 at The Citadel.
The Terriers (1-9) figure to go down swinging. They went for a two-point conversion with a chance to win following an overtime touchdown in the Citadel game.
“The players wanted to go for it and so did I,” Wofford coach Josh Conklin said.
Howell has thrown for 90 touchdowns in three seasons. That TD total puts him tied for third in ACC history, just five behind ex-NC State standout Philip Rivers for second place.
This would be Howell’s final game appearance at home as long as he follows through on a plan to turn pro. His draft projection was extremely high at the beginning of the season.
North Carolina is 5-1 in home games.
The Tar Heels played their past three games against Top 25 opponents, losing at Notre Dame and winning at home against previously unbeaten Wake Forest before the Pittsburgh game.
So this is certainly a different kind of assignment for North Carolina.
Wofford finished in last place in the Southern Conference with the program’s first winless league record. The Terriers have a nine-game losing streak, with its lone victory coming in the opener at Elon. That 24-22 nonconference outcome came about 35 miles away from Chapel Hill, so Wofford’s season will come full circle to some degree.
“We had some more guys go down with injuries and we had guys step up and played well to finish the game out,” Conklin said of the Citadel game. “The offense responded really well and we are seeing some better things.”
Wofford’s Alec Holt had 137 receiving yards against Citadel, marking the first 100-yard receiving game for the Terriers since 2019 — and the most for a Wofford player in 11 years.
This will be the first Wofford-North Carolina football meeting.
–Field Level Media