"This is possibly one of the most challenging schedules the University of North Carolina has had in recent years," said head coach Butch Davis. "It presents a great opportunity for our football team. Having seven home games will create a tremendous amount of excitement and anticipation for our fans. The fans were such a huge part of our success last year at home and this schedule will certainly create even more excitement."
Seven of Carolina's 12 opponents played in a bowl game last season and Virginia Tech, Boston College and Connecticut all won at least nine games.
Carolina plays host to seven home games for just the second time in the last 14 years. The Tar Heels begin the season on Aug. 30 vs. McNeese State and also face non-conference home games against Connecticut (Oct. 4) and Notre Dame (Oct. 11). The Fighting Irish are visiting Chapel Hill for just the sixth time overall and the first time since 1975.
The Tar Heels ACC home slate includes games against defending ACC champion Virginia Tech (Sept. 20), Boston College (Oct. 25), Georgia Tech (Nov. 8) and NC State (Nov. 22).
In the second game of the season, Carolina will play at Rutgers on Thursday, Sept. 11, in a nationally-televised game on ESPN. It marks Carolina's first appearance on an ESPN Thursday night game since the 2006 season against Virginia.
Carolina's road schedule is highlighted by Davis' return to Miami (Sept. 27) where he coached for six seasons and led the Hurricanes to a 51-20 record. Davis and the Tar Heels beat Miami, 33-27, last year at Kenan Stadium. UNC's last win at Miami came in 1957.
Carolina's other road games are at Virgina (Oct. 18), at Maryland (Nov. 15) and at Duke (Nov. 29).
In 2008, the Tar Heels welcome back 10 starters on offense, including all-star candidates Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate at wide receiver, Greg Little at tailback, Garrett Reynolds at offensive tackle and T.J. Yates at quarterback. Defensively, Carolina returns eight starters, including freshman All-Americas Deunta Williams at safety, Marvin Austin at defensive tackle and Quan Sturdivant at linebacker.
North Carolina's Spring Football Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m.
2008 Schedule Notes
* The Tar Heels play just three games in the first 28 days of the season and have open weekends on Sept. 6 and Nov. 1.
* Seven of Carolina's 12 opponents played in bowl games a year ago, not including Miami and Notre Dame, which both saw significant bowl streaks come to an end in 2006.
* Carolina faces Connecticut for just the second time in school history. The first also occurred in Chapel Hill in 1990 and resulted in a 48-21 Carolina victory. The Tar Heels are set to play at UConn in 2009.
* Carolina faces Notre Dame in Chapel Hill for just the sixth time overall and the first time since 1975. Carolina is 1-16 all-time against the Irish. The lone win was a 12-7 victory in 1960 at Kenan Stadium. The 2008 game is the completion of a home-and-home series that began with Notre Dame's 45-26 victory over UNC in South Bend in 2006.
* Located in Lake Charles, La., McNeese state finished the year 11-1 and was ranked No. 3 in the final Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) Top 25 regular season poll. McNeese, the No. 2 seed, lost to Eastern Washington in the first round of the playoffs.
* Carolina and Rutgers are meeting for just the fourth time with the Scarlet Knights holding a 3-0 advantage. Rutgers began what many observers consider its all-time best season with a 21-16 win over Carolina in Kenan Stadium in 2006.
* Carolina and Boston College will meet on the gridiron after a two-year hiatus. The Tar Heels won 16-14 in the last meeting in 2005. Carolina has yet to face the Eagles in Boston, but will do so in 2009.
* Carolina's Nov. 15 game at Maryland marks the first time the Tar Heels have played in College Park since 2003. Carolina defeated Maryland, 16-13, last year in Chapel Hill.
* North Carolina head coach Butch Davis will face one of his former assistant coaches when the Tar Heels take on Rutgers on Sept. 11. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano worked for Davis for two years as Miami's defensive coordinator in 1999-2000.