In college football, most teams open up their season against a weaker opponent to stat their season off on a winning note, and gel as a team.
This year, UNC chose not to go that route, as they put themselves to the test, playing the 6th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks on the road. Well, that didn’t result in the outcome the Tar Heels were hoping for, as they lost 27-10, but the game was closer than the final outcome sounds, as UNC didn’t come through at the some of the golden opportunities that they were given.
Let’s say instead of opening up the season against the Gamecocks, the Tar Heels chose to play a weaker opponent instead, Elon for example.
I am in no way criticizing Elon’s football team, or any big time college team that chooses to play Elon, but they aren’t on the same level as South Carolina.
Would of playing Elon have resulted in a win? Yeah, probably. But would that have made UNC a better team? No, probably not.
Meanwhile, playing the Gamecocks on the road, in a hostile environment, a team that is ranked 6th in the country, that makes you better. Even though it didn’t result in a win, it was a profitable experience for UNC, and it made them a better team down the road.
To be honest, there isn’t a team in the ACC on the same playing field as the Gamecocks. Clemson is a great team, as we saw Saturday night as they took down the 5th ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Clemson is more known for their powerful, dynamic offense, not their defense. Although they made some crucial stops against Georgia, they don’t have a great defense.
The last 5 years, South Carolina has defeated Clemson in their annual match-up, and defeated Clemson on their home turf in last years game.
Playing South Carolina was a much needed experience, as there isn’t any team in the ACC currently who has a defense on par with Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. Despite the loss, UNC did a great job of containing Jadeveon Clowney.
Next week, the Tar Heels will go up against Middle Tennessee State. That kind of goes against my Elon point I made earlier in the article, but my overall argument is that playing South Carolina was much needed. They are a great team, and are national title contenders this season, UNC wasn’t going to play a team like that in the ACC this year.
Even though the final outcome resulted in a loss, at the end of the day, playing in that game was good for North Carolina, and it made them a better team.