North Carolina sophomore quarterback Sam Howell knows who the measuring stick is. Not only in the ACC, but also on a national level.

Howell and the Tarheels gave Clemson its only real test during the regular season last year, coming within one two point conversion of pulling off a massive upset of the Tigers.

While Clemson and UNC aren’t scheduled to do battle during the regular season, Howell knows for the Heels to accomplish their goals, they will likely have to get through Clemson at some point in the postseason.

“We definitely know the challenge ahead of us,” Howell told XL Primetime. “Everyone in the ACC is chasing Clemson. We know that Clemson is advantaged in the ACC. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing, put out the best team we can and give Clemson everything we got. We know Clemson is the team we have to beat if we ever want to win a championship.”

Howell is coming off of a pretty impressive freshman season that ended up being one of the best by a QB in ACC history. He threw 38 TDs and only 7 INTs, completing more than 60% of his throws. He was named third team All-ACC and made the 247Sports, FWAA, and Pro Football Focus All-Freshman teams.

UNC head coach Mack Brown has dramatically improved the recruiting in Chapel HIll since his arrival, and many think the Heels are the team to beat in the Coastal. They are currently ranked in the top five in the 2021 recruiting rankings.

If the two teams were to meet in Charlotte in December, it would make for quite the intriguing matchup. The young, hungry, upstart Heels, squaring off against the established, national power Clemson.

UNC would be out to prove last seasons close game was no fluke and the Tigers would be out to prove that indeed, was the case.

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