ACC, ECU announce early season football starting times

All four state ACC schools, along with ECU, App State, Charlotte and NC A&T, all have plenty of night games during the first three weeks of the 2021 season

The lights will be on at Carter-Finley a lot early in the 2021 season (Brett Friedlander/North State Journal)

North Carolina’s college football teams will be prime time players during the early portion of the season this fall.

All four ACC schools, along with East Carolina, Appalachian State, Charlotte and NC A&T, have all been assigned evening starting times, according to a schedule for the first three weeks announced on Thursday.

NC State will see the most action under the lights, with each of its first three games being played after dark. The Wolfpack will kick off a Labor Day weekend stretch of five straight days with at least one ACC game when it takes on South Florida at Carter-Finley Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 2. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on ACC Network.

Coach Dave Doeren’s team will then travel to Mississippi State for a 7 p.m. game at Mississippi State on Saturday, Sept. 11 before returning home to face Furman at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18 with television coverage on the ACC’s Regional Network.

North Carolina will start its season on Friday, Sept. 3 with a conference showdown with Virginia Tech in Blacksville at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Coach Mack Brown’s highly regarded Tar Heels will play their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 11 against Georgia State at 7 p.m. on the Regional Network, then face another ACC Coastal rival, Virginia, at home in a 7:30 p.m. game on ACC Network on Saturday, Sept. 18.

Duke will open with a pair of weeknight games, starting with a Friday night date at Charlotte on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. with television coverage on CBS Sports Network, followed by a 7:30 start against cross-town rival NC A&T in the Bull City Classic on ACC Network at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10.

Coach David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils will then get an earlier start for a nonconference game against Northwestern at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, also on ACC Network.

Wake Forest, meanwhile, will open up with a 7 p.m. game against Old Dominion at Truist Field on ACC Network before playing Saturday afternoon home games against Norfolk State (Sept. 11 at noon on ACC Network Extra) and Florida State (Sept. 18, 3:30 p.m. on ABC or ESPN).

Among the non-ACC teams, East Carolina and Appalachian State will face one another at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2 in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on ESPNU. The Pirates will then open up at home against South Carolina at noon on Saturday, Sept. 11 with television coverage by ESPN2.

Additionally, ECU’s final home non-conference tilt against Charleston Southern on Sept. 25 will be streamed on ESPN+ beginning at 6 p.m., while the Pirates’ visit to Navy on Nov. 20 will include a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and a CBS Sports Network audience.