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The Debate: Who is the perfect non-conference opponent?

The schedule is out, mostly, but the single non-conference game is yet to be set. Who should it be?

Duke v North Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Welcome to The Debate. Each week, this article presents a topic for discussion. Whether in the comments section, on the golf course, or around the weekend game table (with proper social distancing of course), the goal is to provide enough background that either side could be a winner. In order to facilitate the discourse, a suggested beverage pairing is also included. So speak up, mix it up, and drink up.

Last week, we took another look at what would define a successful 2020 UNC football campaign. With a mostly ACC schedule, the opponents were largely set and only the order was in doubt. That came into focus yesterday. This leaves just one remaining question; who will the 11th game be against?

Carolina fans know who it will not be. The Big Ten is conference only, as is the SEC and PAC 12. The University of Connecticut has called it quits for the year so they won’t be the opponent either. However, there are still lots of possibilities.

With a decision likely any day, this is a perfect time for a debate. Note that this debate is not rooted in reality. There is no chance that at least one of the below options will happen. Summer debates are all about the what-ifs and what-could be.

The Debate for the week of August 7: Who would make the best non-conference game for the 2020 Tar Heels.

Point: UNC Charlotte.

The 49ers would make an excellent opponent. First, they are planning to play football this year which is a big plus. Second, they are an in-state and in-system school that makes for easy travel and policy coordination. In other words, adding Charlotte to the schedule decreases the risk of the non-conference game from a scheduling and pandemic standpoint to the maximum extent possible. Charlotte has also already shown a desire to face ACC foes this year as they have Duke on the schedule.

Last year, the 49ers finished fourth in the Conference USA East Division with an overall 7-5 record on the regular season. They played Buffalo in the Bahamas Bowl, which was not a good effort and an ugly loss.

As a reasonably good team, they will not be a drag on the Carolina strength of schedule but should provide a very winnable game. As a safe option in a season of doubt, this would be a great way to go.

Counterpoint: This is the season to go big; Texas.

The only Power 5 conference beside the ACC that is playing non-conference games is the Big 12. There would be incredible intrigue with Mack Brown coaching his new/old team playing against his other old team. The drama could write itself.

Also, Texas is going to be good. They are ranked in the top 15 in the coaches poll and are looking to challenge Oklahoma in the conference. This would potentially be the biggest non-conference game of the entire college football season. If the winner of this game also wins their conference, then they would be a lock for the playoff. A Carolina win and an undefeated season with a loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship would perhaps be enough to make the playoff. This game would be that big.

Carolina fans were looking forward to Auburn all off-season. Texas would be a perfect replacement.

Time for you to decide! Is a game against the 49ers the way to go or should the Heels shoot for a bigger game against the Longhorns? Maybe you think JMU or Elon would be a better bet. Leave a comment and argue your point.

Drink Pairing

In need of encouragement to debate – No weekend is complete without Kevin’s Breakfast Drink (KBD for short). Named after the creator and advocate, a KBD is Mango Absolute and Orange Juice. It sounds simple but provides a delicious and refreshing burst anytime.