North Carolina football schedule 2013: Opponents, game dates and more

Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Can the Tar Heels make it through a tough early slate to win the Coastal in 2013? They're good enough.

Larry Fedora's debut season at North Carolina was about as successful as fans might hope -- the Tar Heels finished 8-4 overall and would have represented the Coastal Division in the ACC title game were they not prohibited from postseason play by NCAA sanctions.

2013 North Carolina schedule

Date Opponent Conf. Projected ranking

8/29/2013 at South Carolina (Thursday) SEC 15

9/7/2013 Middle Tennessee State CUSA 99

9/14/2013 Open date

9/21/2013 at Georgia Tech ACC 32

9/28/2013 East Carolina CUSA 74

10/5/2013 at Virginia Tech ACC 24

10/12/2013 Open date

10/17/2013 Miami (Thursday) ACC 25

10/26/2013 Boston College ACC 69

11/2/2013 at N.C. State ACC 61

11/9/2013 Virginia ACC 71

11/16/2013 at Pittsburgh ACC 34

11/23/2013 Old Dominion FCS

11/30/2013 Duke ACC 89

12/7/2013 ACC Championship (Charlotte)

Date Opponent Conf. Projected ranking

Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.

With those penalties now behind them, the Heels can focus on a real push for an ACC title, but they will have to survive a front-loaded schedule to make a serious run at a championship. Their season begins with a road game at South Carolina, getting the toughest contest on the slate out of the way right off the bat.

When UNC steps into conference play, things won't get a whole lot easier. Their first three league games come against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami; each of those teams could conceivably end up winning the division, and all of them are projected to be as good or better than UNC. North Carolina will have to face the Techs on the road, to boot. That's no small task, but thanks to the talent that Butch Davis left behind -- and Fedora's early recruiting success -- North Carolina is good enough to win those games.

Once they move beyond Miami in mid-October, everything becomes manageable; the back half of the schedule provides the Heels with an opportunity to put together a winning streak. They probably have some room for error early on -- 5-3 was good enough to win the Coastal last year -- and if they take care of business down the stretch, perhaps they'll find their way to Charlotte for something other than the Belk Bowl.

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