Most important game: North Carolina

Our “most important game” series continues today with North Carolina. If you’re just joining us, shame on you.

North Carolina

Most important game: Oct. 17 vs. Miami

Why it’s important: This will be a nationally televised Thursday night game between two programs expected to contend for the Coastal Division -- and this time be eligible to actually win it. Both Miami coach Al Golden and UNC coach Larry Fedora had their teams in contention to win the division last year, but both programs were ineligible for postseason play. Miami had self-imposed sanctions and UNC was under NCAA sanctions. Miami has yet to hear back from the NCAA, so the Canes' future is still murky, but there's no question this year's team should be a contender, as no team in the league returns more starters.

This fall, the Coastal Division race will be crowded with the addition of Pitt and expected improvement of Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, but if UNC and Miami can build upon the success they had last fall, this game should be critical to the top of the standings. Last year, UNC won at Miami, handing the Canes their first ACC loss. The Tar Heels will have home-field advantage this season, and this game will feature two of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in Miami’s Stephen Morris and UNC’s Bryn Renner.

For more in this series, click here.