North Carolina Tar Heels 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis

The Tar Heels will open the season against Georgia and also face Florida State on the road as they look to defend their ACC Coastal Division crown

After last year’s march to the ACC title game, head coach Larry Fedora has put North Carolina in a place where the Tar Heels should start thinking about the possibility of conference championships and major bowl games every season. Part of the equation in achieving those goals is to have the right type of schedule.


Despite ripping off 11 straight wins to end the regular season, many analysts criticized UNC’s 2015 opponents. One of the main knocks on the schedule was that the Tar Heels played two FCS teams. That will remain an issue in 2016, but Carolina plays a bigger SEC brand in its opener and they face a national power in an ACC crossover game.

Related: North Carolina Tar Heels 2016 Spring Football Preview


2016 North Carolina Tar Heels Schedule


Bye: Week 9


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3

5:30 PM ET


Atlanta, GA

Much like last year, the Tar Heels start their season with a neutral site game against an SEC foe. However, it is unlikely that Georgia finishes the year at 3-9 like South Carolina did last fall and playing the Bulldogs in Atlanta is totally different than going against the Gamecocks in Charlotte.


Sept. 10

7:30 PM ET


Champaign, IL

After facing Illinois in Chapel Hill in the second game of 2015, the Tar Heels head to Champaign to face the new-look Illini in week two. New Illinois coach Lovie Smith will be there to guide Wes Lunt during the quarterback’s final go-round and hopes to see running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn blossom during his sophomore season.


Sept. 17

3:30 PM ET


Chapel Hill, NC

The first of what will again be two games against FCS teams comes in week three against James Madison. The Harrisonburg, Va., school fields a solid FCS program that took down No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2010. But the Dukes have not been competitive against three Power Five programs since that win and lost to North Carolina 42-10 in 2011.

4. Sept. 24 Chapel Hill, NC

Last October, Pitt hosted North Carolina in a game that featured two teams that were undefeated in ACC play at the time. The Panthers will look to exact some revenge after UNC beat Pittsburgh 26-19 and assumed control of the ACC Coastal Division.

5. Oct. 1 Tallahassee, FL

One of North Carolina’s games against the Atlantic Division is always versus nearby rival NC State. Last year, the other was at home against Wake Forest. This year, the Heels greatly raise the competition level by going to Tallahassee to face a Florida State squad that will be in everyone’s top 10.

6. Oct. 8 Chapel Hill, NC

New head coach Justin Fuente should give the Hokies a spark on offense. But Virginia Tech loses a lot off of its defense and even great defensive coordinator Bud Foster will have his hands full trying to slow down North Carolina’s potent offense.

7. Oct. 15 Miami Gardens, FL

North Carolina not only faces Georgia, it also will square off against the Bulldogs’ old coach when the Heels head to Miami to face Mark Richt and his Hurricanes. North Carolina’s pass defense was solid in 2015 and much of the secondary returns. But Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya will test the skills of any defensive unit.

8. Oct. 22 Charlottesville, VA

For the fifth time in the first eight games, North Carolina will face a team with a new head coach. Bronco Mendenhall comes from BYU to Virginia and will attempt to install the same rugged, hard-nosed style of play that was synonymous with his Cougar teams.

10. Nov. 5 Chapel Hill, NC

Georgia Tech is coming off a disastrous 2015 season, one that ended with just three victories. The Jackets should come out this year with a renewed sense of purpose and a North Carolina defense that was pummeled by good running games last year could be threatened by Tech’s triple option attack.


Nov. 10

7:30 PM ET


Durham, NC

It is a road game on a short week, but the drive over to Durham should not be too grueling for the Tar Heels. Duke will have to replace team leaders in safety Jeremy Cash and center Matt Skura while finding a solution at quarterback after Thomas Sirk tore his Achilles tendon.

12. Nov. 19 Chapel Hill, NC

The Military College of South Carolina made the FCS playoffs and advanced to the second round before losing to crosstown rival Charleston Southern last season. Quarterback Dominique Allen returns to run Citadel’s option system, something Heels defensive coordinator Gene Chizik should be able to corral after playing Georgia Tech two weeks earlier.


Nov. 26

Chapel Hill, NC

North Carolina won a high-scoring affair in Raleigh last year and there could be fireworks again this year. Both the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack must replace outstanding quarterbacks. But while the Heels know that Mitch Trubisky is next in line, Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers will compete for the starting job at NC State.


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

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