With a preseason top-10 ranking and another great recruiting class in Chapel Hill, the “Return of the Mack” has eyes on UNC’s 2021 football season and rightfully so. Even after losing a few key pieces, the Tar Heels return almost every starter from the 2021 Orange Bowl game where UNC battled Texas A&M until the end – when the depth of a true top program showed late in the fourth quarter. Mack Brown and crew believe they have finally built that depth and will look to build upon the preseason accolades. Here are a few key games you will want to keep an eye on.
September 3 @ Virginia Tech: The first potential full house in Blacksburg since the pandemic….on a Friday night. Enter Sandman. Enough said. Also, the last time UNC played at VT, the Heels fell in a classic six OT thriller.
September 18 vs UVA & October 9 vs FSU: Couldn’t just chose one here as these are two games UNC might have had circled since the clock hit zero after both of these matchups last season. These were both games where the Tar Heels were heavily favored. In both games UNC allowed those teams to hang around and eventually pull off upsets that had some Tar Heel faithful asking “what could have been.” Thankfully, for UNC, both of these teams come to Kenan Stadium this season with a chance for redemption.
October 30 @ Notre Dame: These teams met last year over the Thanksgiving break in Chapel Hill and went back and forth until the Heels were again worn down by depth. This could be the season UNC gets that marquee top 10 victory. On the road in South Bend would be even bigger with UNC having playoff hopes this season. Notre Dame is Notre Dame year-end and year out, but the Irish have shown in big games they can falter under the bright lights.
Honorable Mention – October 16 vs Miami: A potential Heisman candidate showdown with Sam Howell and D’Eriq King in a game that could determine the Coastal Division.