With the full passage of NC sports betting apps likely coming this week, it's time to look ahead to a few of the first options bettors will have come early next year. Naturally, one can't think North Carolina sports without landing on the Tar Heels, and we're not ready to talk hoops just yet.
That's because returning Heels quarterback Drake Maye will enter the college football season as a top favorite for the Heisman Trophy, coming off a season in which he won both ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Player of the Year. Over at Caesars Sportsbook, Maye is +1400 to win the prestigious award, behind Caleb Williams (+450) Bo Nix (+1000) Michael Penix Jr. (+1200) and Jordan Travis (+1200). Stay tuned for a Caesars NC promo code when mobile apps do officially launch.
But Maye's Heisman chances largely depend on how the Heels perform as a team, and coming off a 9-5 campaign in which they won the ACC Coastal, expectations are high.
With that, BetCarolina.com created a point system to determine the toughest three-game stretch of the North Carolina Tar Heels’ 2023 schedule for the upcoming college football season. We awarded four points to each opponent that won at least seven games last season, three points to each opponent that won at least six games, three points for an away game, and two points for a conference opponent.
Read on to discover which stretch will determine the Heels' season, and if they could even be in the National Championship next January, perhaps in time for action across expanded NC sports betting.
Toughest Stretch of Tar Heels' Schedule Is...
Season-Ending Stretch Will Be Key
The Heels will face several significant tests in Year 5 of the Mack Brown era, namely the season-opening Dukes Mayo Classic against South Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, as well as a trip to Pittsburgh in Week 5 to face a team that went 9-4 last season.
But the ultimate test will come in the last three regular season games of the season. The Heels in Week 10 will play host to a Duke team that also went 9-4 last year, and just barely came up short against UNC in a 38-35 loss.
The Heels will then go on the road for their last two contests, with nothing looming larger than Week 11 at Clemson. One of only two favorites at BetMGM Sportsbook to win the conference ahead of UNC (the Tigers are currently at +200 to UNC's +600), Dabo Swinney's squad went 11-3 last season and all but destroyed the Heels on Dec. 3, winning 39-10 in what was arguably Maye's worst game of his career. Keep that in mind down the road when heading to BetMGM North Carolina early next year.
Finally, the Heels will end their 2023 campaign with another road contest at NC State in Week 12, which went a respectable 8-5 last year. The Wolfpack also won a late season heartbreaker against UNC last season, and be sure that 30-27 victory in two overtimes is still on UNC's mind as it gets underway later this summer.
Follow BetCarolina.com for the latest analysis and North Carolina sports betting promos once online sports betting becomes legal in the Tar Heel state.