Linebacker Andre Smith (left) led UNC with 10 tackles against Cal on Saturday, and also had a 73-yard interception return. (AP Photo/ Gerry Broome)

It was a bad loss at a bad time for the Tar Heels.

In Larry Fedora’s previous five years at UNC, he has never lost the first two games of the season. That is a distinct possibility this fall after losing his home opener for the first time in Chapel Hill.

Carolina’s young team, untested on offense and perhaps overrated on defense, faces 16th ranked Louisville Saturday at high noon in Kenan. The Cardinals have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Lamar Jackson as well as experience and talent on both sides of the ball under Bobby Petrino.

Barring what would be a monstrous upset, the Heels will have to win their first game of the season at Old Dominion the following week, and that is no given. The Monarchs can put up points and Carolina coming to Norfolk will be treated like a Super Bowl for them.

Then it is Duke in September for the first time in the modern era of football, and the Blue Devils are crowing after beating Central 60-6 in their mighty Bull City Classic. We’ll see how good they are after games against Northwestern and Baylor.

Anyway, UNC might be looking at a 2013-type season when the Heels lost five of their first six games and had to win five in a row to get a bowl bid including putting up 80 points against the same Old Dominion program. Another reason to watch out.

The loss to Cal was the worst way to start a season that had Fedora playing down expectations all summer. He knew by losing 93 percent of his offense they weren’t going to score points like usual, and nobody is confusing Fed with Bill Belichick for defensive game planning. He likes to outscore people, period.

Hopefully, the can gradually pull things together and at least go 2-2 after four games. Watching Saturday, that is realistically the best we can hope for.