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Against Georgia, UNC has a chance to put big game woes behind them

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The season-opener can be more than just a win against a ranked team.

ACC Championship - Clemson v North Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

When North Carolina plays Georgia on Satuday, it’s another chance in a big game against a big name opponent. Those haven’t ended well for UNC the past couple years.

At the end of last season, North Carolina had two chances to win a marquee game. In the bowl game, they were practically ran over by Baylor. Against Clemson, they had a shot at the end and got fairly unlucky, but it’s hard to argue that they were the better team in that game.

While South Carolina wound up being bad last season, the fact that the game was essentially the first FBS game of the season made it a marquee matchup. That also ended pretty badly. Marquise Williams, who ended up being pretty good for almost the whole season, had his worst game on the worst possible stage.

Last season North Carolina had three different chances to win a game on a national stage. They somehow managed to lose all three in completely different ways. This is also not a recent phenomenon either.

In 2014, UNC lost a shoot-out to then No. 6 Notre Dame in South Bend. In 2013, they lost another Thursday season-opening game to South Carolina. Let’s just say, it’s been quite a while since North Carolina won a big game on a national stage.

This shouldn’t be seen as a blight on Larry Fedora’s record or anything. They have won games against ranked teams. When UNC had control in the Coastal Division race last season, they finished the job when they might not have in other seasons. They are getting somewhat better in big spots.

In 2016, UNC has high expectations again. If everything goes right this season, Carolina will get more chances in big games. Even if it’s not this year, if the program keeps progressing the way it appears to be, they’ll have big shots in the future. It’s just that at some point, they have to take one of those chances.

If they had even won just one of the marquee games last year, the season would look even better than it does now. If they had beaten South Carolina, they would have gone into Charlotte undefeated with a playoff spot on the line. If they had beaten Clemson, they might have been in the playoff. Even if they had made the playoff and gotten destroyed by Alabama, well, that did happen to a team people thought was good. And if they had beaten Baylor, the imprint that game left on people’s memory of last season would be gone, or at least lessened. Plus, they probably finish in the top ten.

At least right now, North Carolina fans shouldn’t expect to be a playoff contender every year. It just would be nice to win a big game or two. It would do wonders for them.