UNC football’s 2017 schedule was released at 2:00 pm this afternoon, giving us a taste of what the Tar Heels will face at Kenan Stadium and on the road in 2017. The Tar Heels kick off their season with a home game against Cal on September 2nd before welcoming Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals to Kenan Stadium the following Saturday.
The Tar Heels will play Duke on September 23rd at home and NC State in the final game of the season on the road in Raleigh. They’ll also be making trips to Blacksburg, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh for conference games.
Carolina’s schedule definitely seems like a tougher draw on paper than what they’ve gotten the last two years. The latter part of the 2017 schedule features a stretch of games against Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Pittsburgh with only a game against Virginia and a Bye Week (November 4) to break it up.
With so much of UNC’s talent leaving due to graduation or declaration for the NFL draft, the Tar Heels certainly have a tough task ahead of them. They have a very late Bye Week, which will not provide a lot of rest from the tough conference slate. UNC does host Western Carolina in the penultimate game of the year, much like they did with The Citadel in 2016, but the road to get to that game is a long one.
If there is a silver lining to the schedule, it might be that all of the games are scheduled for Saturdays for the Heels. No Thursday night short weeks for them in 2017. The Duke game where everything seemed to fall apart in 2016 was a Thursday game, and while I don’t think their performance can be totally blamed on a short week of preparation, it’s probably better to avoid that when you can.
The 2017 season will likely be one of rebuilding for the Tar Heels, and that’s okay. That gives them plenty of room to exceed expectations. They have a couple really tough games to get through, but there is opportunity there to steal a couple if everything goes right. Hopefully it does.