North Carolina will open the 2015 college football season with South Carolina on Thursday, Sept. 3.
As far as sizzle goes, that’s it for the nonconference portion of the schedules for the Triangle’s three ACC teams.
Outside the UNC-South Carolina opener, which will be in Charlotte, the pickings are slim before ACC play for the Tar Heels, N.C. State and Duke.
UNC will play a second Power 5 opponent, Illinois, and Duke will play Northwestern, another Big Ten foe, but the Illini finished 6-7 a season ago and the Wildcats weren’t even bowl eligible.
N.C. State won’t play a Power 5 nonconference opponent and will play on the road twice – at Old Dominion (Sept. 19) and at South Alabama (Sept. 26) – before conference play begins.
There won’t be any apologies for the schedules by any of the three schools, either.
Schedules are complicated, done years in advance and are not written in stone. UNC and N.C. State hunted bigger games – Tennessee, Ohio State, Louisiana State, to name a few deals that went awry – but came up empty.
Duke had played tougher schedules during coach David Cutcliffe’s tenure – facing Alabama and Stanford teams in 2010 and ’11, respectively – but has settled into a more palatable slate.
Besides, Duke and N.C. State went 4-0 against similar nonconference schedules last season. UNC played the toughest schedule under coach Larry Fedora and went 2-2, with losses to East Carolina and Notre Dame.
The highlights, and lowlights, for the Triangle schools:
UNC (6-7, 4-4 in 2014)
Steve Spurrier, as he is quick to point out, is 5-0 against the Tar Heels, the past two wins with the Gamecocks.
N.C. State (8-5, 3-5)
Duke (9-4, 5-3)