Amazing Numbers: 3 Weeks Between Games & More
College football games are occasionally postponed or cancelled, especially in the Southeast and along the Gulf states during hurricane season. As an example, North Carolina’s home game versus Central Florida two years ago was washed out courtesy of Hurricane Florence.
But the current landscape is dealing with something quite different and rare in the sport, as COVID-19 has already caused cancellations of nearly 20 games involving FBS schools, including UNC’s last weekend versus Charlotte.
And after Carolina’s effort to find a new opponent for this weekend was unsuccessful, the Tar Heels will go three weeks in between games for the first time since 1952.
THI combed over every season in UNC history and came up with the following information on cancellations and the longest periods in between games for the Tar Heels. Keep in mind, periods prior to bowl games were excluded, only regular season games factored into this research. Here’s what we uncovered:
1952 (21 Days)
The Tar Heels had two games cancelled in 1952 - Oct. 4 versus NC State and Oct. 11 versus Georgia – because one of the UNC players contracted polio, which was still incredibly dangerous at the time. Several other UNC athletes also had it. So, after losing to No. 11 Texas, 28-7, on Sept. 27, the next time the Tar Heels played was a 9-7 Oct. 18 loss to Wake Forest. That was also the last season in which UNC and State did not play. The Tar Heels finished 2-6 that year.
1944 (21 Days)
Putting together college football schedules during World War II was not easy, as some schools didn’t play, others played fractured seasons and many faced teams from military training stations, many of which were located on major college campuses. UNC had one, North Carolina Pre-Flight. As far as our research indicates, UNC not playing for consecutive weekends in the 1944 schedule wasn’t the result of a cancellation or postponement, it was just how the season was laid out. On Oct. 14, Carolina defeated Cherry Point Marines, 20-14, and three weeks later, on Nov. 4, lost to South Carolina 6-0. UNC concluded the season 1-7-1.
*UNC did not field a team in 1917 and 1918 because of World War I
1900 (21 Days)
UNC opened the season Oct. 6 with a 38-0 win over the Deaf & Dumb Institute before not playing again until finishing in a scoreless tie with VPI (Virginia Tech) on Oct. 27. Our research indicates this was just how the schedule was laid out, there were no cancellations.
1899 (22 Days)
After opening the season playing nine games in 32 days, capped by a 30-0 loss at Princeton on Nov. 8, UNC was then off for 22 days before defeating Georgia, 5-0, on Nov. 30. Our research indicates this was just how the schedule was laid out, there were no cancellations.
*UNC will go into October having played just one game for the first time since 1961, when the Tar Heels were 1-0 after opening with a 27-22 victory over NC State on Sept. 30. The Heels finished 5-5 that season.
*The last time UNC played just two games going into October was 1969, after opening on the road with losses at NC State (10-3) and South Carolina (14-6) on Sept. 20 and 27, respectively. Carolina finished that season with a 5-5 mark.
*In the 2000s, UNC has played four or five games before October each season but once, when the Tar Heels played just three times before October in 2010. That team opened with a pair of 30-24 losses to LSU in Atlanta and at home versus Georgia Tech before picking up a 17-13 win at Rutgers. UNC finished 8-5 that season.
*Six times in the 2000s UNC has played five games before October, including last season. Carolina could have played six times before the end of September in 2001, but game number four versus SMU was postponed and later played in December, which is the last time the Tar Heels played a regular season game in December. The Tar Heels and Mustangs were slated to play Sept. 15, four days after the 9/11 attacks. That UNC team ended the season with an 8-5 mark.
*The last UNC game that was cancelled came two years ago when Central Florida was supposed to visit the Tar Heels on Sept. 15, but the game was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.