Column: The five must-see UNC home games that you won't want to miss this fall
As The Weeknd sings on his hit track "Starboy," I come alive in the fall time.
The same could be said for UNC athletics.
With class starting up, and exams on the mind, there can be a lot going on. So, I've graciously taken the time to highlight five can't-miss home games for the fall — you can thank me later.
Football vs Minnesota, Sept. 16 at 3:30 p.m.
The UNC football team is once again making waves in preseason, coming in to the year ranked No. 21 in the AP poll. Even despite its four-game losing streak to cap off last season, considering the returning talent of Heisman candidate redshirt sophomore Drake Maye, the team has the potential to excel in 2023.
However, significant questions remain about the efficacy of the team's defense, which ranked 116 out of 131 Football Bowl Subdivision teams for total defense in 2022.
The game against Minnesota, a team that also ended 2022 with nine wins, will be the first real test of what the Tar Heel defensive line can do against seasoned opponents.
If the defense is able to mitigate the Gophers' passing yards and stay strong in the secondary, it will bode well for tough road matchups like Clemson and N.C. State.
Women's soccer vs Florida State, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m.
After an overtime loss in the NCAA championship game last year, the UNC women’s soccer team will be looking for redemption in 2023. With a strong core of returning players, they have all the right ingredients to be a strong contender this fall.
The team's first test of conference play will be against Florida State — a longtime ACC rival that proved tricky for the Tar Heels last season. UNC won two of three matches against the Seminoles in 2022, and all of them came down to a one-goal difference.
Florida State bested North Carolina in last year's ACC Championship final with its strong defensive efforts. If the Tar Heels can win against the Seminoles when they meet again at Dorrance Field, it will be an indicator of the possibility of another deep postseason run.
Volleyball vs Louisville, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m.
The UNC volleyball team had a somewhat rocky season last year, going 17-12 overall and 9-9 in the ACC. At points, they showed flashes of strength against strong teams but were largely unable to capitalize on those moments.
The team's most difficult challenge of the fall will come on Oct. 6, when the Tar Heels will face off against No. 4 Louisville, a powerhouse volleyball program of the ACC that has lost only four games in the last two seasons. If UNC can best Louisville, it will be a strong testament to an improved team in 2023.
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The Tar Heels face a slew of tough matchups, but none more daunting than Syracuse — a program that claimed both the ACC and NCAA titles last year. The Tar Heels only faced the Orange once in 2022 in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. They were able to hold Syracuse to just one goal but were unable to convert on four attempts.
If the Tar Heels are able to create a more productive offensive effort this year, the Syracuse game will be one circled on the calendar as a significant test of their abilities.
Gwen Peace is the 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as a senior writer. Gwen is a sophomore pursuing a double major in media and journalism and peace, war and defense.