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    Tar Heels’ history against Big Ten teams


    UNC football will play Minnesota for the first time in program history on Saturday at Kenan Stadium. 

    When the 20th-ranked Tar Heels (2-0) and Golden Gophers (2-0) kick off at 3:30 p.m. (ACC Network), it’ll be Carolina’s first game against a Big Ten opponent since winning at Illinois in 2016. 

    UNC is 16-13 all-time against longtime Big Ten opponents. In addition to Minnesota, the Tar Heels haven’t played Iowa or Purdue. If Maryland is included, UNC is 53-45 against the Big Ten. Original members of the ACC in 1953, the Terrapins joined the Big Ten in 2014. 

    Here’s a look at the Tar Heels’ history against Big Ten opponents. 

    Illinois Fighting Illini

    UNC is a perfect 4-0 against Illinois, winning in 1971, 1987, 2015 and 2016. The Tar Heels won those games by an average margin of 26.5 points. UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky accounted for four touchdowns in a 48-23 victory at Illinois in 2016.

    Indiana Hoosiers 

    A pair of historic programs on the basketball court, the Tar Heels and Hoosiers haven’t played on the gridiron since 1999. UNC has a 2-0 record in the series, winning 23-6 in 1997 and 42-30 in 1999. A two-sport athlete for the Heels, UNC quarterback Ronald Curry accounted for three touchdowns in the 1999 meeting. 

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    Maryland Terrapins

    It’s weird to include Maryland in this, because the Terrapins haven’t played the Tar Heels since leaving the ACC. UNC and Maryland played 70 games from 1920-2012, with the Heels leading the series 37-32-1. Quarterback Bryn Renner tied a school record with five touchdown passes in a 45-38 win against the Terps in 2012.

    Michigan State Spartans 

    UNC and Michigan State haven’t played since the Tar Heels’ 21-15 win in 1964 capped a three-year stretch in the series. The Spartans won the first two games by an average margin of 31 points. 

    Michigan Wolverines

    The Tar Heels and Wolverines split a pair of games in the 1960s before UNC earned a 17-15 victory in the 1979 Gator Bowl. 

    Nebraska Cornhuskers 

    The Huskers won the only meeting between the two programs in 1977. UNC had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before Nebraska rallied for a 21-17 win in the Liberty Bowl. 

    Northwestern Wildcats

    The Tar Heels are 2-0 against the Wildcats, winning 12-0 in 1976 before a 41-7 road victory in 1977. 

    Ohio State Buckeyes

    The Buckeyes have won three of the four meetings in the series. Each of the four games were played from 1962-75 in Columbus. UNC’s lone victory was a 14-3 win in 1965. 

    Penn State Nittany Lions

    UNC and Penn State haven’t played in eight decades. The Heels won the only game in the series with a 19-0 victory in 1943. 

    Rutgers Scarlet Knights 

    Outside of Maryland, UNC has played Rutgers more than any other Big Ten program. The Scarlet Knights are 4-3 against the Heels, starting with a 5-0 win in 1894. Carolina won three of the last four games, including a 24-22 win behind two touchdowns from Giovani Bernard in 2011.

    Wisconsin Badgers 

    The Badgers are 2-0 against Carolina, with both wins coming in the early 2000s. UNC lost 38-27 in Madison in 2003 and followed with a 14-5 loss at Kenan Stadium in 2005. 

    Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at or @RoddBaxley on X/Twitter.



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