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Wake Forest lost to North Carolina, so why are Demon Deacons still undefeated in ACC?

Wake Forest played an ACC team in a game that won’t count in the conference standings. Here’s why.

Sam Hartman of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons breaks away from Power Echols of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of their game at Kenan Memorial Stadium on November 06, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The No. 9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons entered Week 10 with a legitimate chance to play in the College Football Playoff if they could remain undefeated. They lost to an ACC opponent today in the North Carolina Tar Heels 58-55, but are still undefeated in ACC play.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Deacs and Heels were rivals going back to the 19th Century in football, but as the ACC continued to expand, the teams were placed in opposite divisions, and weren’t each other’s designated “crossover” rivalry game each year. So the schools only face each other once every six seasons under the current conference format.

Enter some scheduling needs and a desire to rekindle a rivalry, and UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham and former Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman decided to play a home-and-home series in 2019 and 2021 that takes place outside the conference schedule. They’ll also play again in 2022, but that one will actually count in the conference standings.

It’s unusual, but it turned out to be a fateful decision for Wake Forest as blowing an 18-point lead in Chapel Hill has basically ended their chance of being in the College Football Playoff. And that’s certainly one way to rekindle a rivalry.