Seven home games, including a Thursday night game vs. Miami, and a meeting at border rival South Carolina highlight the 2013 North Carolina football schedule, released Monday by the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"Our team is excited about the 2013 schedule and the challenges it presents," said head coach Larry Fedora. "We are working hard to prepare for the season and we will strive to play a smart, fast and physical brand of football."
Carolina will host an ESPN Thursday night game for the second time in school history when it welcomes Miami to Chapel Hill on October 17 during UNC's Fall Break. Carolina's first ESPN Thursday night game occurred in 2009 vs. Florida State.
"A Thursday night home game is an excellent platform to promote the University and showcase our campus in prime time on ESPN," said UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham. "The feedback I received from those involved with the 2009 contest was extremely positive. It was a successful and unique event for our University community and economically benefitted the town of Chapel Hill.
"In anticipation of hosting a Thursday night game this season, we began meeting with campus officials several weeks ago to discuss a plan that will cause minimal disruption to our faculty, UNC Hospitals and all other campus services. We will continue to work on that plan over the next several months and look forward to hosting a successful event for our students, coaches and fans."
"On behalf of the faculty, I appreciate the efforts by the Department of Athletics to minimize the disruptions on campus by working with all the affected constituencies in making arrangements for the Thursday night football game during Fall Break," said Jan Boxill, Chair of the Faculty at North Carolina.
The Tar Heels return 13 starters (six offense, seven defense) from last season's eight-win team that set more than 20 offensive records in Fedora's first year as head coach. Quarterback Bryn Renner returns for his senior year after setting the single-season school record for touchdowns in 2012 with 28. He is joined by sophomore standout Quinshad Davis, who set UNC rookie records for receptions and receiving yards last year. All-ACC performers James Hurst (OT) and Eric Ebron (TE) also return.
"Opening the season on the road at South Carolina is a great motivator for our offseason workouts and provides us with a tremendous opportunity on national television," said Fedora. "We'll have a similar opportunity later in the season when we host the Hurricanes on Thursday night. The atmosphere in the Tar Pit will be electric and we need our fans to continue to make Kenan Stadium a difficult venue for all of our opponents."
Carolina plays home games against Middle Tennessee State (Sept. 7), East Carolina (Sept. 28), Miami (Oct. 17), Boston College (Oct. 26), Virginia (Nov. 9), Old Dominion (Nov. 23) and Duke (Nov. 30). Five of the final seven games are at home.
Carolina's road games include visits to South Carolina (Aug. 29), Georgia Tech (Sept. 21), Virginia Tech (Oct. 5), NC State (Nov. 2) and Pittsburgh (Nov. 16). Three of the first five games are on the road.
Carolina opens spring football practice on Wednesday, March 6, in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels will conduct free public practices in Charlotte at Mallard Creek High School on March 28, and in Greensboro on April 5 at Grimsley High School. Carolina's Spring Football Game is set for Saturday, April 13 at 3 p.m.
2013 North Carolina Football Schedule
Aug. 29 @ South Carolina (ESPN)
Sept. 7 Middle Tennessee State
Sept. 21 @ Georgia Tech
Sept. 28 East Carolina
Oct. 5 @ Virginia Tech
Oct. 17 Miami (ESPN)
Oct. 26 Boston College
Nov. 2 @ NC State
Nov. 9 Virginia
Nov. 16 @ Pittsburgh
Nov. 23 Old Dominion
Nov. 30 Duke