Swinney said Sunday that Watson's play in a 23-17 overtime loss to No. 1 Florida State earned him the right to start Saturday.
Senior Cole Stoudt had started the first three games for the Tigers (1-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), but Watson came in early against the Seminoles and threw for 266 yards on 19 of 28 passing.
Watson was considered the top dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country last fall. He accounted for a Georgia state record 17,134 yards of offense and 218 touchdowns at Gainesville High School.
The Tigers face the Tar Heels (2-1, 0-0) at Memorial Stadium.