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The Healy Era opens at Charlotte: Where are wins, losses on 49ers’ football schedule?

Meet Will Healy, the Charlotte 49ers new football coach

Charlotte 49ers welcome their new head football coach, Will Healy, an Eddie Robinson Award winner as the National FCS Coach of the Year, during an introductory press conference at Richardson Stadium.
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Charlotte 49ers welcome their new head football coach, Will Healy, an Eddie Robinson Award winner as the National FCS Coach of the Year, during an introductory press conference at Richardson Stadium.

The Charlotte 49ers are a month away from opening their seventh football season, a Thursday night on-campus game against Gardner-Webb at Richardson Stadium. Here’s a look at how the 49ers’ schedule shapes up, with some educated guesses at how those games will turn out:

Gardner-Webb

Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+

The 49ers open the season under new coach Will Healy against the Football Championship Subdivision’s Bulldogs, from down the road in Boiling Springs. Gardner-Webb, picked fifth in the Big South, was 3-8 last season. Linebacker Darien Reynolds, a former Vance High standout, is an all-Big South preseason first-teamer.

Fearless prediction: Charlotte 45-14.

At Appalachian State

Sept. 7, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+

This budding rivalry is renewed after the Mountaineers blistered the 49ers 45-9 last season in Charlotte (they’re scheduled to play four more games beginning in 2026). Appalachian, which has a new coach in Eliah Drinkwitz, returns 10 starters on defense and seven on defense from a team that went 11-2 last season, winning the Sun Belt championship and playing (and winning) a bowl game for a fourth consecutive season.

Fearless prediction: Appalachian State 42-17.

Massachusetts

Sept. 14, 6 p.m., ESPN3

The 49ers hope to play better this season against the Minutemen than they did in 2018. UMass jumped to a 28-0 first-quarter lead on the way to a 49-31 victory in Amherst, Mass. The Minutemen, who went on to finish 4-8, have a new coach in Walt Bell. Most of the team’s stars from last season, including receiver Andy Isabella, are gone.

Fearless prediction: Charlotte 21-13.

At Clemson

Sept. 21, Time, TV TBA

The 49ers’ Power 5 opponent just so happens to be the defending national champion Tigers. Clemson’s offense includes quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne, both all-America candidates. Charlotte will get an up-close look at how college football is done right.

Fearless prediction: Clemson 49-6.

Florida Atlantic

Sept. 28, 3:30 p.m., NFL Network

Dabo Swinney one week, Lane Kiffin the next. Charlotte opens its Conference USA season against Kiffin’s Owls, whom the 49ers beat last season on a 56-yard field goal by Jonathan Cruz in what was former coach Brad Lambert’s final game. FAU will be without its offensive stars of last season -- including running back Devin Singletary — but does have standout linebacker Rashad Smith back.

Fearless prediction: Charlotte 28, FAU 27.

At Florida International

Oct. 12, 7 p.m., ESPN+

The Panthers are picked second in C-USA’s East Division and have one of the league’s top quarterbacks in James Morgan, who threw a school-record 26 touchdown passes last season. Coach Butch Davis has 16 starters back from last season’s team that went 9-4 and finished tied for second in the East.

Fearless prediction: FIU 24, Charlotte 14.

At Western Kentucky

Oct. 19, 4 p.m., ESPN+

The 49ers cruised against the Hilltoppers last season, winning 40-14 in Charlotte. WKU, however, should improve on last season’s 3-9 mark and has one of C-USA’s top receivers in Lucky Jackson.

Fearless prediction: WKU 17, Charlotte 10.

North Texas

Oct. 26, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+

Charlotte will get a first look at perhaps C-USA’s top player, Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine, who is the country’s active leader in career passing yards (9,417). North Texas is the preseason favorite to win C-USA’s West Division title.

Fearless prediction: North Texas 35, Charlotte 21

Middle Tennessee

Nov. 2, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3

Gone is star quarterback Brent Stockstill, but the Blue Raiders have one of C-USA’s top playmakers in receiver Ty Lee. Charlotte is winless against Middle Tennessee in four games.

Fearless prediction: Charlotte 21, Middle Tennessee 17

At Texas-El Paso

Nov. 9, 3 p.m., ESPN+

Charlotte makes its first trip to El Paso, where the Miners are expected to again struggle. Kai Locksley is a dual-threat quarterback for a program that’s won just one game over the past two seasons.

Fearless prediction: Charlotte 35, UTEP 24.

Marshall

Nov. 23, 3:30, Stadium

The Thundering Herd is the preseason favorite to win C-USA’s East Division. Marshall has nine starters back on offense, including quarterback Isaiah Green, last season’s co-freshman player of the year in the league.

Fearless prediction: Marshall 28, Charlotte 24.

At Old Dominion

Nov. 30, 2, ESPN+

The 49ers will get a look at the Monarchs’ reconstructed Ballard Stadium, which will seat 22,480 and be a marked improvement over its aging predecessor. ODU, which like Charlotte has a football program still in its infancy, slipped to 4-8 last season, including a 28-25 loss against the 49ers.

Fearless prediction: ODU 24, Charlotte 17

Final record: 5-7 (3-5 C-USA)..

David Scott: @davidscott14
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