By R.L. Bynum
Carolina opens the season Sept. 2 against South Carolina in Charlotte and finishes with road games against N.C. State and Clemson in what Coach Mack Brown calls one of the toughest schedules in school history.
Brown already knew which ACC teams his Tar Heels (9–5, 6–2 ACC last season) would face, but he didn’t like the way the league allocated those games in what probably will be quarterback Drake Maye’s final college season.
His beef likely is finishing the season against Clemson (11–3, 8–0) on Nov. 18 and N.C. State (8–4, 4–4) on Nov. 25, with both games away from Chapel Hill, and playing eight consecutive weeks to finish the regular season. Only three other teams have to do the latter — Florida State, Miami and Wake Forest. Louisville, N.C. State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech only play five straight weeks to finish the season.
“They didn’t do us any favors,” Brown said Monday of the ACC. “It’s really, really difficult. We start tough, and we finish with an unbelievably tough schedule. I’m disappointed. I told them I didn’t like it; didn’t think it was fair.”
Because the schedule hadn’t yet been released at the time, he didn’t elaborate on his issues with the schedule.
During the ACC Network’s schedule reveal show, all three commentators agreed that UNC has the toughest schedule in the league. Carolina is one of eight ACC schools that will face two Power Five nonconference opponents.
Carolina opens league play Sept. 23 at Pittsburgh (9–5, 5–4). The Tar Heels then have its open date before playing three consecutive home ACC games, facing Syracuse (7–6, 4–4) on Oct. 7, Miami (5–7, 3–5) on Oct. 14 and Virginia (3–7, 1–6) on Oct. 21.
UNC then plays at Georgia Tech (5–7, 4–3) on Oct. 28 before facing Campbell (5-6) on Nov. 4 and Duke (9–4, 5–3) on Nov. 11. That Blue Devils matchup is the Tar Heels’ home finale before taking on the Tigers and Wolfpack.
This is the first season with no divisions and the ACC championship game on Dec. 2 in Charlotte will match the teams with the top two league records. UNC won the last Coastal Division title.
Carolina will play Duke, N.C. State and Virginia every season and will meet the other 10 teams at least twice every four years.
Well before that challenging season, the Tar Heels’ spring game will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 15 (streamed on ESPN3).
The Tar Heels face seven teams that went to bowls last season, including two that played each other — Minnesota (9–4), who comes to Kenan Stadium on Sept 16, beat Syracuse 28–20 in the Pinstripe Bowl.
The Orange come to Chapel Hill for the first time since the Tar Heels won 31–6 in the last meeting in 2020.
Other opponents who went to bowls are the Tigers, the Gamecocks (8–5), the Wolfpack, the Panthers and the Blue Devils.
The home games against the Gophers and Campbell will each be the first meeting between Carolina and those programs. The Camels started their FCS program in 2008.
It will be the fourth consecutive meeting with the Gamecocks in Charlotte and the third time they have opened the season there. They split the first two season openers, with South Carolina winning 17–13 in 2015 and UNC beating the Gamecocks 24–20 in 2019. South Carolina won the bowl game there 38–21 in 2021.
One of the schedule’s highlights will be UNC’s first trip to Clemson since losing 50–35 in 2014. The Tigers have won the three meetings since then, 45–37 in the 2015 ACC championship game, 21–20 in Chapel Hill in 2019 and 39–10 in last season’s ACC championship game.
Carolina has won only one of the last eight meetings, 21–16, in Kenan Stadium in 2010.
After UNC’s epic 63–61 win in Boone last season, Appalachian State (6–6) visits Chapel Hill on Sept. 9.
The ACC’s television partners will announce game times and television for next season’s games later this year.
|Date||Month/location||Opponent (2022 record)||Series |
|15||Home||Spring game, 3 p.m., ESPN3|
|2||Charlotte||South Carolina (8–5)||35–20–4|
|9||Home||Appalachian State (6–6)||2–1|
|16||Home||Minnesota (9–4)||First |
|23||Road||Pittsburgh (9–5, 5–4 ACC)||11–5|
|7||Home||Syracuse (7–6, 4–3)||3–3|
|14||Home||Miami (5–7, 3–5)||15–11|
|21||Home||Virginia (3–7, 1–6)||66–57–4|
|28||Road||Georgia Tech (5–7, 4–4)||22–32–3|
|11||Home||Duke (9–4, 5–3)||65–40–4|
|18||Road||Clemson (11-3, 8–0)||19–39–1|
|25||Road||N.C. State (8–4, 4–4)||68–38–6|
|2||Charlotte||ACC championship game|
Photo courtesy of the ACC