After the loss to Georgia on Saturday, North Carolina has some work to do if they are going to get anywhere close to the heights of last season.
However, if they are anywhere close to being in the New Year’s Six bowl discussion, you need the teams on your schedule to pick up some wins too. Last year, UNC was held out of playoff discussion right to the end because of schedule, as well as the fact that their one regular season loss came against a bad team. It’s too early to make definitive conclusions about teams this season, but how is UNC’s schedule stacking up after week one?
Carolina’s next opponent, Illinois, started their season with a win. In Lovie Smith’s first game, Illinois beat Murray State 52-3. Murray State is just an FCS team, but Illinois’ defense did manage to hold them to just 165 total yards, and -10 rushing yards.
In a game that was most notable for James Connor’s return, Pitt also won their opener over an FCS team. The Panthers beat Villanova (who is that?) 28-7. Connor had a rushing and receiving touchdown, and Pitt’s defense allowed just 172 yards.
Despite falling behind by 22 points in the second quarter against Ole Miss, Florida State came away with a 45-24 win. Freshman quarterback Deondre Francois threw for 420 yards in his first game.
Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke, and NC State all had wins against FCS teams as well. The most notable of those was Miami’s 70-3 win over Florida A&M in Mark Richt’s first game. Miami gave up just 22 rushing yards, and had four different players go for more than that on their own. Three of those players went for over 100 on the ground.
In the lone in-conference ACC game in week one, UNC opponent Georgia Tech beat Boston College in Dublin, Ireland. Tech scored 10 points in the final six minutes to come from behind and win 17-14.
The two FCS teams on Carolina’s schedule both won, but that probably won’t matter much. James Madison and The Citadel are both ranked in the FCS poll. However, in the eyes of poll voters and playoff committee members, wins over good FCS teams don’t seem to be evaluated any different from wins over bad ones.
That being said, JMU is no joke. They beat Morehead State 80-7 in their first game of the season. They rushed for 498 yards. If UNC’s run defense doesn’t improve, that game could wind up being trickier than expected.
And then there is Virginia. In their first game, the Cavaliers lost to Richmond. Richmond is also no joke. They’re the second ranked FCS team, but still. Virginia allowed 524 total yards and was down as many as 23 points.
Other than whatever Virginia was doing, no team on UNC’s schedule lost a game they should have won, so that’s good.