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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC football schedule released for 2017

The ACC released its football schedule for the 2017 season on Tuesday, giving the first look at the North Carolina football team’s schedule next season.

The Tar Heels previously announced certain nonconference matchups — like its season opener against California — but now the team knows how the season will shape out.

UNC — which went 8-5 (5-3 ACC) in 2016 — will not have to wait long to face last year’s Heisman Trophy winner. Lamar Jackson and Louisville will come to Chapel Hill on Sept. 9 for the Tar Heels’ conference opener.

Three of UNC’s first four games on the 2017 schedule are at home, a stroke of good fortune for the inexperienced football team Larry Fedora will lead next season.

Highlights on the home schedule include the Week 1 matchup against California, the Louisville game and the Oct. 7 home tilt against Notre Dame. UNC also plays Duke at home in 2017, except this time the matchup comes much earlier in the season — on Sept. 23, as opposed to the Nov. 10 meeting this past season.

North Carolina has one Thursday night game scheduled this season, facing Pittsburgh on the road on Nov. 9 after a bye week. In 2016, the Tar Heels played on the road against Duke on Thursday night and played N.C. State on a Friday afternoon two weeks later.

Some of the Tar Heels’ toughest games are spread out throughout the season. The toughest two-week stretch starts in Week 8, when UNC plays in an Oct. 21 road game against Virginia Tech — which handed North Carolina its first ACC loss in 2016. The Tar Heels then return home against Miami on Oct. 28 before seeing their lone bye week on Nov. 4.

North Carolina has some odd scheduling for its games against weaker nonconference opponents, but it mirrors its slate from a season ago. The Tar Heels play at Old Dominion in the third week of the season and hosts Western Carolina on Nov. 18 — similar to the Week 3 matchup with James Madison and the Nov. 19 game against The Citadel in 2016.

For the second straight season, UNC avoids facing Clemson — which beat North Carolina in the 2015 ACC Championship Game and won the national title earlier this month. The Tar Heels also dodge Florida State, a team that fell victim to a 54-yard kick by Nick Weiler in a 37-35 loss to UNC in Tallahassee last season.