There were times when a football schedule was released before the previous football season was over. With opponent rotations already set and non-conference opponents scheduled years in advance, all that was needed was to plug everything into a computer and spit the results out. With the advent of conference specific networks, that announcement had come a little later in recent years. This year, however, with fans starving for something to get excited about, the ACC has sent us a lifeline: the 2021 ACC football schedule.
While the product on the field in the pros tends to slide up from college, a trend in the pros that slid down to the colleges this year was each team coming up with a way to announce their schedule on social media. Gotta say, hat tip to UVa for their video game-themed announcement. The Tar Heels, on the other hand, went full Internet with their announcement:
Our 2021 schedule - but in memes #CarolinaFootball #BeTheOne pic.twitter.com/VEabjWYXuH— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) January 28, 2021
As we get closer to the football season we will get more in detail with the schedule. However, it never hurts to go ahead and take a look now, does it?
September 2/3-@Virginia Tech
Carolina will be featured...somewhere...as those dates are Thursday and Friday in September, and as that’s the opening weekend the clear plan is to feature this game on some ESPN network as a grand opening to the ACC. The game in Blacksburg is always difficult, and with VT coach Justin Fuente’s seat hotter than the sun, you know they’ll want to make noise quickly.
September 11-Georgia State
You’d almost hope Carolina would have flipped these games, but fans will finally get a chance to cheer the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill in what will hopefully be an easier game after a difficult start. The Tar Heels are due to play in the converted Turner Field home of Georgia State in 2022.
Carolina stays in Chapel Hill to try and get revenge against the Wahoos. Brown is so far winless against Virginia, and in fact, the Cavs have beaten Carolina every year since Mitchell Trubisky’s only season as the starter. This is a big hurdle for the squad to jump over in their quest for bigger things.
September 25-@Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets will be a tougher opponent as Geoff Collins enters Year Three in Atlanta, and he’ll have players more experienced in what he wants to do. Plus, funny things always seem to happen in Atlanta, so don’t sleep on this game.
While Brown has had some issues with Virginia, not so much with the Blue Devils. Blame the stomping the Blue Devils gave Brown as he was just starting in Chapel Hill. There’s a lot up in the air with the Blue Devils this off season, so there’s every reason to be optimistic that the Tar Heels will kick off a long time in Chapel Hill with a win.
October 9-Florida State
Another revenge game, as the Seminoles basically crashed after pulling off the upset in primetime last season. Florida State has athletes so even if the program is still struggling to get wins, it’s clear the Tar Heels will have motivation to take care of business in a rare Atlantic/Coastal rematch.
Carolina wraps up their stretch before the bye against the Hurricanes. There’s every reason to circle this game, as it’ll likely be for control of the Coastal, especially since Carolina only has two more conference games after this one. Miami has a big task in front of them to open their season, Alabama, but there’s still a pretty good chance that this game will have a marquis spot considering how well the last game did on TV. If Chapel Hill hosts a Gameday this season, this will be the game they'll do it for.
October 30-@Notre Dame
The bye week will come at a good time, as the Tar Heels will look at avenge another loss from last season, this time against the once-again-independent Irish. While Notre Dame is likely to take a step back from their CFP-level season next year, this game in South Bend will be another national showcase for UNC as the Irish will have all their home games on NBC. They aren’t afraid to put games in prime time, and if the Tar Heels have the type of season many are expecting, there’s a good chance this one will be under the lights.
November 6-Wake Forest (non-conference)
Yes, it’s that “non-conference” conference game. The let down potential is high here after two marquis games with a bye week sandwiched in between, especially with their next game coming just five days later. The hope here is the Tar Heels come out quick and take care of business early.
Hey kids, it’s your biennial “Thursday night football in Pittsburgh!” Seriously, can anyone think of the last time this game wasn’t on a Thursday night? The Answer? 2013, the first time the Tar Heels and Pitt faced off as conference foes. Since then, every road game against the Panthers has been on a Thursday Night. Seems too consistent to be a coincidence at this point.
Senior Day comes along as a tune up for the annual rivalry game. This is also going to likely be Sam Howell’s last time in Chapel Hill, so if you think you should skip this game, well, I’ll gladly take your ticket.
November 26-NC State
Carolina once again will play on Black Friday, this time in Raleigh as the UNC/NC State tilt moves back to its spot as the season finale for both squads. Carolina’s fate in the ACC Title game will likely have been long decided before this point, the question is whether or not the Tar Heels will be able to realistically have their eyes set on something higher. State, on the other hand, will look to snap their losing skid to Carolina.
So there you have it, twelve games laid out for you to plan to attend. As schedules go, it really sets up well as the Tar Heels won’t have to travel further than Atlanta until late October, and will play five of their first seven at home. It also is quirky in that they’ll have played six of their eight ACC games before October is done, and depending on how that Carolina/Miami game goes, they might even know by that point that they are headed to Charlotte.
We’re still seven months away from kickoff, but there’s every reason to be excited now.