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UNC Football: Charlotte out, WCU in

A new open weekend before the ACC Title game creates an opportunity

NCAA Football: Western Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

When Charlotte was unable to travel to Chapel Hill for their game scheduled on September 19th, Tar Heels’ AD Bubba Cunningham scrambled to see if they could get a game in for this past weekend, a scheduled off weekend. Cunningham had a lot of factors to weigh, including the cost of playing someone, the benefit of cramming someone in at the last minute versus the rust that would build up on the football team by not playing after their eventual thrashing of Syracuse. Ultimately, while teams were game to come, Cunningham admitted that they were trying to extract as much as they could, while at the same time UNC was still under the “no crowd” order from the state of North Carolina. That plus there being at least one other off weekend allowed him to decide to let this weekend pass without a game.

That decision appeared to be a smart one, as a series of dominoes fell after Cunningham announced the team was on to Boston, as they like to say up there. First, NC Governor Roy Cooper announced that Kenan will be allowed to have 7% capacity going forward. Then, the ACC announced at the same time that the Notre Dame/Wake Forest game schedule for this past weekend would be moved to December 12th, and the ACC championship game would be played on December 19th.

This series of move ended up creating a new weekend, and one that likely will allow Cunningham to have some people in the stands assuming things continue as well in the state as they have been. Unsurprisingly, the AD was able to jump at the opening and quickly take advantage:

It likely won’t be the last change this year as the Tar Heels still have their November open date in case another game needs to be moved, and there’s always the chance they could play the weekend of the 19th if they need to and they aren’t in the ACC Title game.

On the call announcing the game, Mack Brown did mention that should the ACC decide they need to play a game that weekend against a conference foe, that conference game would be played instead. While saying UNC wouldn’t play WCU in that instance, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Catamounts still have the flexibility to play another weekend as needed.

The Tar Heels have faced WCU only twice before, in 2017 and 2018, which accounted for 40% of their combined win total for those two seasons. That stat, of course, was a big reason Mack Brown is giving this news instead of Larry Fedora.