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Analyzing UNC's 2015 Football Schedule

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC released the football schedule for the 2015, here is what you can expect from UNC's slate.

-Numbers and odd facts:

7 home games
1 neutral site game
4 road games
9 games played in North Carolina.
2 Thursday night games

UNC's farthest road game is at Pittsburgh followed by Atlanta, then Blacksburg. UNC won't leave the state of North Carolina until October 3rd and play every game within a 500 miles radius of Chapel Hill.

Unlike the past two seasons, there is just one bye week in 2015. Unfortunately for UNC is comes after the Heels play Georgia Tech instead of before which is ideal when facing the triple-option.

-For the first time since 1990(hat tip UNC's Lee Pace) the Tar Heels will play the entire non-conference portion prior to starting ACC play. Three of those games will be at home after the Tar Heels open the season in Charlotte versus South Carolina.

-After two years with relatively decent non-conference slates under Larry Fedora, this certainly qualifies as the weakest. South Carolina was 7-6 a year ago and Illinois was 6-7. Those Power 5 opponents are paired with FCS teams NC A&T and Delaware. The Blue Hens were 6-6 a year ago and lost to Pitt 62-0. NC A&T went 9-3 last season and did not play a FBS team.

-Given the critical nature of this season in Fedora's tenure, a weaker non-conference schedule isn't the worst idea in the world assuming it is just one season. If UNC can beat South Carolina in Charlotte and start the season 4-0, then 4-4 in ACC play is an eight win season. 5-3 in the ACC gets the Heels to nine wins. In theory, UNC should have a better schedule but in a season where the program needs some momentum, this slate could work in the Tar Heels' favor.

-UNC's ACC schedule is somewhat backloaded. UNC enters ACC play against the defending Coastal Division champs Georgia Tech in Atlanta. That's followed by Wake Forest and Virginia in Chapel Hill, both very winnable games. Conceivably UNC could enter the final five games of the season at 2-1 in ACC play before traveling to Pitt for a Thursday night game, hosting Duke and Miami then finishing on the road at Virginia Tech and NC State.

-As is usually the case, UNC will need to hold serve at home where the Tar Heels have four winnable games in ACC play. The road contests will be much tougher for various reasons but mainly because Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and NC State had offensive units that UNC was unable to stop while Virginia Tech will make life difficult for the Tar Heel offense. New defensive coordinator Gene Chizik has his work cut out for him.

-As noted above, this is a crucial year for Larry Fedora. UNC is coming off a losing season, Fedora's first as a head coach. The program returns a significant number of key players on both sides of the ball but are loaded for bear on the offensive side. Gene Chizik has been hired to fix the woeful defense. Assuming he can garner some significant improvement and the offense perform better than it did last season, the Tar Heels should handle the schedule fine.

-With the non-conference slate, UNC's basement with this schedule is 7-5 with the ceiling being 9-3. At worst UNC should enter ACC play at 3-1 and going 4-4 in the league is fairly reasonable, especially if the defense improves over last season(how can it not?) For Larry Fedora to really build some momentum, getting to 8 or 9 wins is deal plus going 3-0 against Wake Forest, Duke and NC State. At 8-9 wins, UNC can get to a solid bowl destination and cap the season off with a nice win heading into 2016.