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Heel Tough Blog: 2022 Schedule Breakdown

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The 2022 season will be one of the most important in Tar Heels football history as the trajectory of Mack Brown’s second tenure has hit a crossroads. On Monday night, the ACC finally revealed the schedule for this crucial season and we’re here to break down what looks like a rather difficult slate. Here is our in-depth look at the Tar Heels 2022 schedule.

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April 9th: Spring Game

This year’s spring game will be an important one with this being the first look at the new defensive scheme under Gene Chizik, one that could see some new faces getting opportunities. Offensively, there is still a lot to be worked out with the backfield rotation and this will be an important benchmark for that as well as a good assessment about the hopes of the revamped offensive line. The biggest storyline, though, will be the quarterback battle that will likely be raging at this time between Drake Maye and Jacolby Criswell.

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August 27th: Florida A&M

This is the first time ever that the Tar Heels will play in Week 0 and this is a nice way to start for a team that will be working with a new starting quarterback and revamped offensive line. The Rattlers had a strong season in 2021, going 9-2 in the regular season before being knocked out in the first round of the FCS Playoffs by Southeastern Louisiana. This should still be no issue for the Tar Heels in one of the easier openers in the last few years.

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September 3rd: @ Appalachian State

While this is a matchup with a Group of 5 team, Shawn Clark’s squad has consistently been one of the better G5 teams in the country year in and year out and it is hard not to remember what happened in the last matchup between these two sides. This will be the first road test for the new starting quarterback and Boone is an underrated environment, especially if this one takes place at night. This will be a stiff test for the Tar Heels out of the gate and could set the stage for the expectations moving forward. That makes this one of the more important games of the early season for this 2022 squad.

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September 10th: @ Georgia State

For the second straight week, the Tar Heels will be on the road to face a member of the Sun Belt, but this one will be much more winnable. They demolished this team in Kenan this past season and even though the Panthers finished 2021 strong and this game is in Atlanta, this is one where the Tar Heels should have enough talent to outpace the Panthers.

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September 24th: Notre Dame

For the third straight season, the Tar Heels will face the Fighting Irish, but this time they will get them in Chapel Hill again. The last meeting in Kenan was a tight one and the Tar Heels have failed very well at home overall in the past two seasons, but this will be a tough one. Notre Dame is once again having to replace their starting quarterback with Jack Coan gone and they will have some voids to fill defensively, too, under new head coach Marcus Freeman, so this might be the best time to catch. Still, this might very well be the toughest test of the season for the Tar Heels, especially with the question mark they have themselves.

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October 1st: Virginia Tech

The Hokies will be the second straight opponent that the Tar Heels will face that will be working in a new head coach. This is another offseason of roster turnover for the Hokies, but they have taken nice advantage of the transfer portal, especially at quarterback where they will have a number of options that should be battling it out this fall. This is a team that even with their issues, still has beaten the Tar Heels more often than not. This is part of an important stretch in the middle of the schedule for the Tar Heels and they need to be able to take advantage of games like this at home.

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October 8th: @ Miami (FL)

The Tar Heels will have to travel to the home of the team that will almost certainly be the preseason favorite in the Coastal, but this is a team that they have had some nice success on the road against and in general since the mid-2010s. The Hurricanes will have some major expectations coming into the season based on new head coach Mario Cristobal’s hire teamed with the emergence of Tyler Van Dyke in the second half of this past season. This has the chance to be one of the toughest matchups with the Hurricanes in a while, but it comes at a good time for the Tar Heels.

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October 15th: @ Duke

This rivalry matchup will close out a stretch of four straight weeks with matchups against new head coaches as the Tar Heels will welcome Mike Elko to the series. 2022 could be a tough first season for Elko with some significant roster turnover, primarily on the offense side. The Tar Heels dominated the Blue Devils in Kenan this past season and even though this game is on the road, the expectation should be much different in this one, especially with where this is on the schedule.

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October 29th: Pittsburgh

This will be the first time in four years that the Panthers will actually have to make the trip to Chapel Hill and that could favor the Tar Heels, who have lost each of the last two matchups in overtime on the road. The Panthers did lose Kenny Pickett to the NFL, but Kedon Slovis does come over from USC and a lot of the talent from a year ago is expected to be back led by Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison at wide receiver. This will be a stiff test against the other team that is a threat to be the preseason favorite in the Coastal, but getting this late in the season and at home definitely helps.

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November 5th: @ Virginia

The Tar Heels return to facing a first-year head coach in this one, as they face Tony Elliot in his first season as a college head coach. This is a Cavalier team that has a lot of work to do defensively just as the Tar Heels do, but offensively they return what might be the best quarterback in the conference in Brennan Armstrong and speedy receiver Dontayvion Wicks. The Tar Heels just took their first win in the series in five years this past season and this one is on the road, but this will be an important one to win with where it is on the schedule and the other games that are around it.

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November 12th: @ Wake Forest

Remember that the reason the non-conference matchups between these two programs were set up was that they weren’t playing each other enough? Well, that is no longer the case. This will now be the fourth straight season that the two sides will meet, but the first meeting in Winston-Salem since 2019. Dave Clawson’s crew will once again be a threat in the ACC Atlantic, especially if Clemson has another season like this year and should once again be one of, if not the best, offensive units in the conference. The question will once again be that defense and that is why it is better that the Tar Heels catch them where they do on the schedule, giving their offense time to get into a rhythm with the new quarterback and offensive line.

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November 19th: Georgia Tech

Gone is the FCS game that leads into the season finale rivalry game, making this a tougher finish to the season, but this isn’t a bad game to draw here leading into a short week. There should be no reason why the Tar Heels shouldn’t be motivated to avenge last year’s embarrassing loss in the Mercedes-Benz Dome. This Yellow Jackets team will be projected to finish in the bottom two of the Coastal once again this season and is another game that the Tar Heels simply have to win this year.

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November 25th: NC State

This game has slowly become one of the staples of Black Friday college football and this year will be no different. This NC State team will likely enter this season with similar expectations to what the Tar Heels entered this past year with and will return the majority of their team in the process. After what happened last year, this should be the most motivated that the Tar Heels have maybe ever been for this next matchup in this series. Add in the fact that there could be division title implication on the line for one, if not both, of these teams and this has a chance to be the game of the year in on this schedule.

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