North Carolina football’s long-standing series against Virginia, nicknamed the South’s Oldest Rivalry, will endure as part of the ACC’s new scheduling model that begins in 2023 and scraps the league’s divisional format.
In-state rivals Duke and NC State join Virginia as the Tar Heels’ primary opponents in the conference’s new 3-5-5 structure announced Tuesday.
Matchups against those primary opponents continue annually across a four-year cycle from 2023-26, while UNC will play the ACC’s other 10 teams twice during that period, once at home and once on the road.
The new scheduling model calls for each ACC team to face all 13 conference opponents, home and away, at least once during the four-year cycle.
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North Carolina and Virginia have met 126 times in football. Only the Minnesota-Wisconsin series, the annual Big Ten battle for Paul Bunyan’s axe, has been played more often among rivalries on the bowl level of college football.
With the elimination of the Atlantic and Coastal divisions, all 14 ACC teams will compete in one division starting in 2023. The top two teams based on conference winning percentage will advance to the ACC championship game in December at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The league began divisional play in 2005, after conference expansion added Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. Pittsburgh and Syracuse joined in 2013, followed by Louisville in 2014. Notre Dame, an ACC sports member but not for football, has played a rotation of five opponents from the ACC each season since 2014.
NCAA rules had mandated that leagues with 12 or more members hold football conference championship games between the winners of two divisions. With leagues continuing to grow, the NCAA Division I Council in May approved the deregulation of the rule, which had limited a league’s autonomy in determining its championship game participants.
ACC football primary partners
Boston College: Miami, Pitt, Syracuse
Clemson: Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State
Duke: North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest
Florida State: Clemson, Miami, Syracuse
Georgia Tech: Clemson, Louisville, Wake Forest
Louisville: Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia
Miami: Boston College, Florida State, Louisville
North Carolina: Duke, NC State, Virginia
NC State: Clemson, Duke, North Carolina
Pittsburgh: Boston College, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
Syracuse: Boston College, Florida State, Pitt
Virginia: Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech: Pitt, Virginia, Wake Forest
Wake Forest: Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech
2023 UNC football ACC opponents
Home – Duke, Miami, Syracuse, Virginia
Away – Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State, Pitt
2024 UNC football ACC opponents
Home – Boston College, NC State, Pitt, Virginia Tech
Away – Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia
2025 UNC football ACC opponents
Home – Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia
Away – Miami, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest
2026 UNC football ACC opponents
Home – Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Wake Forest
Away – Boston College, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Adam Smith is a sports reporter for the Burlington Times-News and USA TODAY Network. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or @adam_smithTN on Twitter.
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This article originally appeared on Times-News: UNC football discovers primary opponents under new ACC schedule format