Yesterday it was announced the North Carolina will face the Auburn Tigers in the 2020 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game. Usually a stand-alone game that serves as an official start to the college football season, the 2020 game will be the final contest of a three game, week-long event in Atlanta.
Prior to the Heels and Tigers taking the field at Mercedes-Benz Field the Florida State Seminoles will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers on September 5th. The Georgia Bulldogs and Virginia Cavaliers keep the action going on September 7th. The Heels and Tigers close out the week on September 12th.
As most news outlets have already reported, this will be the seventh time the two teams have faced one another. The Heels hold a 4-2 advantage in the series, though they haven’t met since the 2001 Peach Bowl. That game is best remembered for Ronald Curry’s 62-yard touchdown run, which gave the Heels a 16-0 lead. It turned out to be the game-winning play, as the Tigers ultimately fell short 16-10. Enjoy this highlight of Curry’s signature football moment as a Tar Heel.
This will be UNC’s third appearance in the season opener. Of course, most fans remember (but would rather forget) the first trip to Atlanta in 2010. Thanks to suspensions of 13 players, including six starters, a suddenly depleted Tar Heel squad lost 30-24. Despite the obstacles, UNC still had a chance to earn a much-needed statement win as T.J. Yates drove the team inside the 10-yard line in the final minute. Unfortunately, two throws into the end zone in the final 10 seconds couldn’t find their target. There’s an argument to be made that the football program still hasn’t recovered from that fateful “what if” weekend.
More recently, the Heels fell to Georgia in the 2016 edition. That game delayed Mitch Trubisky’s coming out party, as the Bulldogs hung on for a 33-24 victory, in what will always be a de facto home game for state’s flagship university. That game was the last time UNC played an SEC team. The Heels have not defeated an SEC team since they beat the Tennessee Volunteers in the 2010 Music City Bowl.
Hopefully the third time is the charm when North Carolina returns in two years.