College Football Preview: UNC vs. N.C. State
RALEIGH ó Deunta Williams knew someone was bound to mention North Carolina’s embarrassing loss to rival North Carolina State last year. So the Tar Heels safety was quick with a joke when asked whether anyone had hung signs in the locker room reading “41-10.”
“What’s that?” he quipped.
No one in Chapel Hill really needs a refresher heading into today’s matchup. That 31-point home loss last November ended with the blue-clad home fans skipping the final humbling minutes and leaving the visiting fans in red to celebrate in a mostly empty Kenan Stadium. It also ended with N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien memorably pronouncing that “we’re the best football program in the state, without question” after the Wolfpack had swept the other four instate Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
A year later, however, the 23rd-ranked Tar Heels (8-3, 4-3 ACC) are playing their best football to close the regular season while N.C. State (4-7, 1-6) is an injury-riddled mess. And while revenge is often an overrated motivation, that loss still lingers more than most for the Tar Heels.
“It hurt,” Williams said. “We had to get rid of it quick because there were other games to go out and play. But I think everybody still remembers what happened and how it happened and wants to make sure it doesn’t repeat.”
North Carolina has won four straight games, including at Virginia Tech and a home upset of Miami, to become bowl eligible for the second straight season. Last weekend, the Tar Heels won at Boston College 31-13 with a familiar formula: tough defense, adequate offense.