Chapel Hill, N.C. --- Seven home games, including the first Thursday night home game in UNC history, highlight the 2009 North Carolina football schedule, released Thursday by the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"Our 2009 schedule is exciting and challenging," said head coach Butch Davis. "The fans and student body have been a huge part of creating a great game day atmosphere and I'm thrilled we will play seven times at Kenan Stadium for the second straight year. I know our fans, players, and staff are excited about the opportunity to host the first Thursday night game against an outstanding Florida State team."
Eight of the Tar Heels' 12 opponents played in a bowl game last season, including Florida State, which returns to Kenan Stadium for the first time since 2003.
The Tar Heels and Seminoles will meet over Carolina's Fall Break on Thursday, Oct. 22 in an ESPN nationally televised game. The following week, Carolina goes on the road to Virginia Tech for another ESPN Thursday night game in Blacksburg, Va.
"Thursday night home games have grown into an excellent way to promote your football program and campus and bring your fans together in a unique experience," says Athletics Director Dick Baddour. "It's the college version of Monday Night Football – it is the only show in town and football fans across the nation are watching. We have chosen not to play host to previous Thursday night games due to the disruption it would cause at a university like ours where the football stadium is in the heart of campus."
"After discussions with Chancellor (Holden) Thorp, faculty leaders and officials from UNC Hospitals, we think we have a plan to make this work," Baddour added. "The ACC also worked with us to select a game on the Thursday of Fall Break, thus there are no classes that day or the following day. We will continue to work with university staff to minimize the impact traffic and having 60,000 fans here will have on the hospital and other campus services. We are excited about playing Florida State and we know our fans will truly enjoy this opportunity."
Carolina's home slate features games against The Citadel (Sept. 5), East Carolina (Sept. 19), Virginia (Oct. 3), Georgia Southern (Oct. 10), Florida State (Oct. 22), Duke (Nov. 7) and Miami (Nov. 14). It is the first game between Carolina and Florida State since 2004, and the schools' first meeting in Kenan Stadium since the 2003 season opener. The 2009 home schedule also marks the first time Carolina and Duke have not ended the year
The Tar Heels' road schedule feature contests at Connecticut (Sept. 12), Georgia Tech (Sept. 26), Virginia Tech (Oct. 29), Boston College (Nov. 21) and NC State (Nov. 28).
In 2009, North Carolina returns 40 lettermen and 15 starters, including nine starters on defense.
The offense is led by quarterback T.J. Yates, running backs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston and wide receiver Greg Little.
Defensively, linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter headline an experienced squad that returns all four starting defensive linemen and three of four starters in the defensive backfield.
Carolina's Spring Showcase is set for Saturday, March 28. A kickoff time has not been determined. Stay tuned to TarHeelBlue.com for more details as they become available.
2009 Schedule Notes:
• North Carolina is 3-0 all-time against The Citadel. The last meeting was a 45-14 Carolina win in 1986. The other games were played in 1915 and 1939.
• Carolina travels to Connecticut for the first time in school history in 2009. The Tar Heels won the previous two meetings with the Huskies in Chapel Hill, 48-21 in 1990 and 38-12 in 2008. This marks the eighth consecutive year Carolina has played a Big East conference institution.
• North Carolina plays host to East Carolina for the first time since 2001. The previous two matchups against the Pirates came in Greenville in 2003 (a 28-17 UNC win) and 2007 (a 34-31 ECU victory). The Tar Heels are 8-2-1 all-time against East Carolina, including a 7-1-1 mark in Chapel Hill.
• North Carolina and Georgia Southern are meeting for the first time on Oct. 10.
• North Carolina will play back-to-back Thursday night games for the first time in school history.
• While the North Carolina vs. Duke game has typically been the final game of the season for each team that has not always been the case. As recent as 2005, Carolina finished the season at Virginia Tech.
• The last time Carolina played its final regular season game against NC State was 1998 in Charlotte. The last time the final game of the year was played in Raleigh was 1995.
• Carolina will look to extend its three-game home win streak against Miami when the teams meet Nov. 14 in Chapel Hill. Carolina leads the series with the Hurricanes, 7-5, and has won all three games played in Chapel Hill
• North Carolina will play at Boston College for just the second time and the first time since 1984.
2009 North Carolina Schedule
Sept. 5 – The Citadel
Sept. 12 – at Connecticut
Sept. 19 – East Carolina
Sept. 26 – at Georgia Tech
Oct. 3 – Virginia
Oct. 10 – Georgia Southern
Oct. 17 – Open
Oct. 22 (Thurs) - Florida State (ESPN)
Oct. 29 (Thurs) - at Virginia Tech (ESPN)
Nov. 7 – Duke
Nov. 14 – Miami
Nov. 21 – at Boston College
Nov. 28 – at NC State