UNC Football: Biggest Game In Kenan Stadium Since…?

Sep 18, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels run on to the field at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels run on to the field at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The No. 12 ranked UNC Football program will host No. 25 Miami this weekend, and it’s arguably the biggest game in the last 25 years in Chapel Hill.

Since Mack Brown left the UNC Football program at the end of the 1997 season, Tar Heel football has been looking to get back to the heights it reached in the mid-90s, climbing as high as No. 4 in the AP Poll during the 1997 season and finishing the season ranked No. 6 in the country.

Earlier this week, we took a look into the history between the Hurricanes and Tar Heels. As North Carolina prepares to host the No. 25 Miami Hurricanes in Chapel Hill this upcoming Saturday night, it begs the question: Is this the biggest game in Kenan Stadium in the last 25 years?

Since Brown departed Chapel Hill for Texas, Kenan Stadium has played host to just five top-25 matchups, three of those were during the 2020 COVID-19 Season in which half the country didn’t play or delayed the start of their season, causing some teams to be ranked that may not have been in a normal season. Here is a list of those matchups:

  • 2008: #19 UNC vs #22 Georgia Tech (W, 28-7)
  • 2016: #17 UNC vs #25 Virginia Tech (L, 34-3)
  • 2020: #8 UNC vs #19 Virginia Tech (W, 56-45)
  • 2020: #14 UNC vs #25 NC State (W, 48-21)
  • 2020: #25 UNC vs #2 Notre Dame (L, 31-17)

Not only are we in line for another top-25 matchup this weekend in Chapel Hill, but UNC Football is 5-0 and at home, which has been a rare occurrence in the history of the program. How rare? Adam Lucas provides us with a mind-blowing stat.

Of course, Miami will not be coming into Chapel Hill at 5-0 due to their late-game clock management against Georgia Tech. If the Canes would’ve been able to beat Georgia Tech, it would’ve been an even rarer occurrence of 5-0 teams (or better) meeting on the gridiron in Chapel Hill.

Nonetheless, it will still be a 4-1 Miami team ranked in the top 25 that takes the field Saturday night at Kenan Stadium versus a 5-0 Carolina team that is looking to continue to build on its success in 2023. And ah, Judgment Day… the upcoming game against the Hurricanes is possibly the biggest game in Chapel Hill since that No. 5 vs No. 3 matchup in 1997.

With every game that the Tar Heels win, the next one gets even that much bigger, and Saturday night is up there with one of the biggest games in the last 25 years. Mack Brown has talked about getting UNC Football back into the National Spotlight since he returned in 2019, and this is the type of game you want to be involved in at this point in the season. It has been a very long time since North Carolina has been in a game of this magnitude, and very rarely in Chapel Hill.

Undefeated. ACC Game. Under the lights. Primetime. Kenan Stadium. If you can be in Kenan on Saturday night, I desperately urge you to be in Kenan. It is going to be an electric atmosphere and is another chance for the Tar Heels to take one more step toward achieving their goals this season and moving into the National conversation for the second half of the season.

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