UNC football schedule predictions and early game-by-game preview for 2016. Projecting how the Tar Heels will do this year.
Can the Tar Heels be as good after a Coastal Division title? Will the schedule work out well enough to come up with another terrific season? Check out the UNC football schedule predictions for every game this season.
Sept. 3 vs. Georgia (in Atlanta)
The Tar Heels will be a trendy pick considering all the problems in the Georgia backfield – and then the Dawgs will get everything rolling. Kirby Smart and the new coaching staff will come up with a fantastic game right out of the gate with dominant line play leading the way to an ugly blowout. UNC is better than what the final score will be.
Preseason Prediction: Georgia 41, North Carolina 17
Sept. 10 at Illinois
The Tar Heels destroyed the Illini last year in a terrific performance, but this time around the Fighting Lovies will keep it closer at home. Smith’s defense won’t quite be humming yet as the Tar Heel offense makes up for the clunker in the opener with a terrific all-around game.
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 37, Illinois 21
Sept. 17 vs. James Madison
The Dukes will once again be an FCS superstar, but the defense won’t be able to hold its own against the balanced and explosive Tar Heel attack. This is when the UNC offense starts to get everything in place and starts humming – even if it’s against a lower level team.
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 52, James Madison 20
Sept. 24 vs. Pitt
The Panthers and Tar Heels are about dead even in terms of all-around talent and upside, but the UNC offense will hit on two big pass plays to open things up late at home. Pitt will seem like it’s dominating the game – it just won’t own the scoreboard. Too many empty drives will prove costly in the second half.
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 23, Pitt 20
Oct. 1 at Florida State
The Tar Heels were outclassed in the opener against Georgia, and they’ll be outbombed in the key interdivisional matchup that could be a preview of the ACC title game if everything breaks right. FSU will be 0-1 in the ACC after losing to Louisville early on – it’s not going 0-2. The secondary will come up with three key picks and Dalvin Cook will run for over 200 yards.
Preseason Prediction: Florida State 34, North Carolina 14
Oct. 8 vs. Virginia Tech
Just when it seems like North Carolina can’t quite find its groove – in comes a Virginia Tech team with a week off to prepare. It’ll be a battle to find anything that works quite right, but the Tar Heels will come up with a gut check performance to potentially turn around the season until …
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 24, Virginia Tech 21
Oct. 15 at Miami
The Tar Heels will come up with a brilliant game from their offense, and it’s not going to be quite enough. Brad Kaaya will go off for the Hurricanes with one of his better games of the season – especially considering how solid the UNC secondary will be – doing just enough to win a terrific back-and-forth shootout. Don’t think the Canes won’t remember last year’s 59-21 loss.
Preseason Prediction: Miami 38, North Carolina 31
Oct. 22 vs. Virginia
Yes, the Virginia defense will be solid. Yes, the Cavaliers will eventually start rolling under Bronco Mendenhall. Yes, UNC will be in the doldrums after losing at Miami. No, this won’t be close. The Tar Heels will open it up early and put this away without a problem. This will be the team everyone was waiting for, blowing up just before finally getting a break.
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 40, Virginia 17
Nov. 5 vs. Georgia Tech
Getting the week off to prepare will mean everything. The Yellow Jacket option attack will do its part with grinding drives and a big day on the ground, but the secondary will get hit by lightning a bit too often. Time of possession won’t mean a thing late in the game.
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 38, Georgia Tech 30
Nov. 10 at Duke
Call it the post-Georgia Tech effect. Coaches HATE the week after dealing with the cut-blocking and the offensive schemes that do what the Yellow Jackets do, and in a short week with only a few days to get right, the Tar Heels won’t be okay defensively. The offense will work, but the defense won’t get on the bus.
Preseason Prediction: Duke 45, North Carolina 41
Nov. 19 vs. The Citadel
Oh that’s just GREAT. As if playing Georgia Tech a few weeks earlier wasn’t enough, dealing with yet another high-powered running attack on the supposed week off isn’t what the Tar Heels need. Unlike the fun against the Yellow Jackets, UNC will roll without a problem.
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 41, The Citadel 10
Nov. 25 vs. NC State
It’ll be a herky-jerky season with plenty of frustrations and lots of missed opportunities. But the Tar Heels will make up to the Duke loss a few weeks earlier with a nice day against a struggling Wolfpack team that’ll spend the year trying to find its identity. It’ll be too late to do that in Chapel Hill.
Preseason Prediction: North Carolina 30, NC State 17
2016 Prediction: 8-4
2016 ACC Prediction: 5-3