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Tar Heels are Clemson’s likely ACC Championship opponent

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Clemson’s victory over Florida State puts the Tigers into the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte on December 5. Their opponent has yet to be determined, but it is becoming increasingly likely it will be the North Carolina Tar Heels.

North Carolina routed arch-rival Duke, 66-31 on Saturday to take control of the Coastal Division. They are now 5-0 in the conference and are riding an 8-game winning streak after a season-opening loss to South Carolina.

Quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 494 yards and 4 touchdowns to lead the Tar Heels. By halftime he had already accumulated 404 yards. Williams also added a rushing touchdown.

Williams had an 89-yard, flea-flicker pass to Ryan Switzer on their first offensive snap and it was downhill from there. Seven different players scored against a defense ranked 8th in the country coming in.

After allowing 664 total yards, the Blue Devils will see that ranking drop dramatically. The defeat comes one week after the controversial, last-second loss to Miami that saw the entire officiating crew suspended for two games.

The Tar Heels can punch their ticket to Charlotte with a victory next Saturday at home over that same Miami team and a Pittsburgh loss. North Carolina will be a strong favorite.

To say North Carolina is on a roll would be a large understatement. Since that opening loss, the only team to come within a touchdown was then-No. 23 Pittsburgh.

“You want to be playing your best ball in November,” said North Carolina Coach Larry Fedora. “You hope your team is better in the last game than you were the first game.”

His team has provided ample evidence that they are better today than they were against South Carolina in September. As it turns out, Pittsburgh will be the only ranked team the Tar Heels play this year.

After next week’s game against Miami, North Carolina will finish on the road against Virginia Tech (4-5) and North Carolina State (6-3). Should they move on to play Clemson, the Tar Heels will need to heed their coach and play even better than they did on Saturday.

As FSU fans can attest, Clemson is that good.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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