In the past two seasons, North Carolina football has produced some crazy games and results. Last year, they won two games on plays in the dying seconds, with one of those being an upset of Florida State in Tallahassee. They also lost two games to rivals despite going in as decently-sized favorites.
That’s to say nothing of 2015, when they lost the opening game in frustrating fashion, and then went on to put up 60 multiple times.
UNC plays some weird games. Considering how much they’re replacing, there’s no reason to think that 2017 will be different. With that in mind, let’s try and figure out what games might produce the craziest games this season.
12. vs. Western Carolina
The Catamounts are not only an FCS team, but an FCS team that wasn’t very good last year. If UNC plays a close game against them, things will have gone really badly.
11. vs. Old Dominion
Old Dominion did make a bowl appearance last year, but you would think UNC still has more talent than them. The Tar Heels have lost some non-conference games recently, but they haven’t been against non-power five teams.
10. vs. Virginia
The October 14th game against the Cavaliers looks to be UNC’s easiest conference game. The game is a rivalry, and you can insert the rivalry cliches if you wish. However, North Carolina hasn’t lost to Virginia since 2009, and this doesn’t appear to be the year that changes.
9. vs. California
Cal will be playing in their first game under a new coach in the season opener. Sonny Dykes’ Cal teams played in a style would have made a game against UNC a seven-hour long 60-50 game, but he’s no longer there. The Bears still might be pretty good on offense, but the game probably won’t be as weird as it otherwise might have been.
8. @ Virginia Tech
Last year’s game against the Hokies was certainly weird, but there were some extenuating circumstances. A trip to Blacksburg is always tough, so if UNC were to win, it might turn into a crazy game. It’s just hard to predict that at this stage.
7. vs. Louisville
The Cardinals return the Heisman Trophy winner in Lamar Jackson. Their biggest weakness, especially late in the season, was keeping him upright. Seeing as how UNC has to replace their best defensive lineman in Naz Jones, they might not be the best team to take advantage of that.
6. vs. Duke
Give credit to the Blue Devils for taking advantage and winning last year’s game, but UNC played that game extremely strangely last year. Considering that Duke returns a quarterback, UNC doesn’t, and the game is in September, there’s certainly potential for things to get annoying for the Tar Heels once again.
5. vs. Miami
The Hurricanes were picked as division winners at ACC Kickoff, but like UNC, are replacing a quarterback. If UNC does knock off one of the Coastal favorites, a home game against a team they have a winning streak against seems like a good candidate.
4. vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame made a trip to the state last year, and made it weird themselves as they continued to attempt to throw the ball in a hurricane. This game looks like it could go one of two ways: either Notre Dame is better than the 4-8 record from last year and is just better that the Tar Heels. Or, the 4-8 record was accurate, the Fighting Irish still have some work to do, and UNC takes advantage. The two teams have played a couple times within the last 15 years and have produced some strange results.
3. @ NC State
Last year’s game was a surprising result, but it wouldn’t have been an especially interesting game to watch for a neutral observer. This year’s game could be interesting as the Wolfpack could be pretty good and the Tar Heels will (hopefully) be anxious to get revenge for last year.
2. @ Pitt
UNC still hasn’t lost to Pitt since the Panthers joined the conference, but every game has been close. All four have been decided by seven points or fewer, and last year’s ended on a last second touchdown as mentioned earlier. The teams should be around a similar level this year, so another close game may be on the cards.
1. @ Georgia Tech
Since Larry Fedora took over at Carolina, the games against Georgia Tech have been by far the craziest. Arguably the least interesting one was last year, and the Tar Heels scored 48 points. The two teams’ styles of play just seem to produce interesting, ridiculous football when paired together, and this year might not be any different