The 8-1 UNC football team will take on Miami in an ACC battle on Saturday, November 14th. The game kicks off at 3:30 in Kenan Stadium.
You can listen to UNC Football vs. Miami on 97.9 FM and 1360 AM WCHL.
WCHL will broadcast Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts from 12:30 until 2:30 from Hickory Tavern. The UNC pregame show starts at 2:30 from Kenan Stadium.
The Tar Heels are sitting atop the ACC Coastal division after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 66-31 last Saturday. Senior quarterback Marquise Williams completed 23-of-35 passes for 494 yards–a new school record–and accounted for five touchdowns in all. He also rushed for 30 yards, to finish with 524 total yards by himself–the first Tar Heel to ever break the 500 yard mark–in what was arguably the best performance ever by a UNC football player.
The Miami Hurricanes will come into Chapel Hill with a 6-3 record. The team is 2-0 since the firing of head coach Al Golden. In the ACC Coastal division, Miami is tied for third place with Pittsburgh.http://chapelboro.com/calendars/unc-football-vs-miami/
UNC-Duke football. Tobacco Road football that matters in November.
Join WCHL at Hickory Tavern in Carrboro for your Tar Heel Football pregame festivities.
WCHL will be broadcasting “Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts” from 9:00 until 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 7 on 97.9 FM, 1360 AM and online at Chapelboro.com.
The Tar Heels take on the Duke Blue Devils in Kenan Stadium at noon. Carolina is 7-1 on the season and is looking to go 5-0 in the ACC after last week’s win over Pitt. Despite Duke’s last-second loss against Miami, this game decides who will be in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal Division.
Hickory Tavern is located on 310-110 East Main Street in Carrboro.
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The North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Virginia Tech Hokies in an overtime thriller on Saturday. The 30-27 victory clinched an ACC Coastal Division Championship. Check out photos from UNC vs. Virginia Tech by Smith Cameron Photography.
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest game the UNC football team has played this year, but after letting a 14-point lead disintegrate in the final three minutes of regulation the 17th ranked Tar Heels were able to escape Blacksburg on Saturday with a 30-27 overtime victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies–keeping their playoff hopes intact.
“That’s why I’m in this,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said afterwards. “To see [the players] reach their goals and dreams. We sit in those living rooms and tell them and their parents that my dream is for them to reach their dreams when they come to Carolina.
“For those seniors, their No. 1 goal this year was to win the Coastal Division, and they’ve done that,” he added. “And we expect that to turn into bigger things.”
Senior quarterback Marquise Williams fumbled three times in the game–and twice in the fourth quarter with UNC trying to run out the clock–but his 5-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis in the extra period was a walk-off winner.
“Marquise really was never shaken–I can’t say the same for me,” Fedora said. “After the second fumble, he came off and he was like, ‘Okay, I’m good, I’m good.’ I didn’t have a whole lot to say to him. I really didn’t. There was nothing good that I was going to say.
“He went over there and got himself ready to go,” the coach said about his quarterback. “He knew what was at stake and what he had to do, and then he went back out. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make a play.’”
Already UNC’s all-time leading receiver in terms of catches and touchdowns, Davis’s touchdown clinches the ACC Coastal Division for the Tar Heels and their head coach, Larry Fedora. It also marks the team’s 10th consecutive victory, bringing its record to 10-1 in 2015–and a perfect 7-0 against conference opponents.
All signs late in the ball game pointed to Virginia Tech pulling off a fairy tale ending for their head coach since 1987, Frank Beamer, in what was his final home game at Lane Stadium. Instead, Beamer’s squad falls to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the ACC–needing a win next week against Virginia to keep his 22-year streak of making a bowl game alive.
Hokie quarterback Michael Brewer completed 20 of his 35 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns–each coming in the game’s closing minutes. His top target, receiver Isaiah Ford, continually burned the Tar Heel secondary deep all game long–catching eight passes for 155 yards and a score.
“When we talked all week about this game, we knew that this was the perfect storm,” Fedora said. “Everything was going against us. They had the tribute to Coach and they needed to get bowl eligible and it was the seniors’ last day in this stadium, and the black unis.”
A defensive battle for most of the day, Williams’s 18-yard touchdown run on the game’s first drive was the only touchdown of the first half. Joey Slye’s 32-yard field goal for Virginia Tech accounted for the only other points before the break, with UNC ahead 7-3.
The Tar Heels struggled with the crowd noise in Blacksburg, picking up seven false start penalties on offense–which helped contribute to the season-high eight punts they were forced into.
On top of that Williams struggled with his accuracy, only completing 13-of-26 throws, but for 205 yards and a score.
Taking advantage of that fact, the Hokies were able to hang around until the end–getting a 4-yard scoring run from Brewer to tie the game at 10 with the fourth quarter approaching.
Despite getting only three carries in the first half, Fedora turned to sophomore tailback Elijah Hood to try and put the game away in the end.
On back-to-back drives to begin the final period, the Tar Heels found the end zone by giving it to Hood, who gained 117 yards on 17 carries once it was all said and done.
Sophomore cornerback MJ Stewart then intercepted Brewer in the red zone with just over 5 minutes remaining and the Tar Heels up by a pair of touchdowns
It seemed, momentarily, like the game was over at that point. But the Hokies found a way to battle back.
A bad exchange on a handoff from Williams to Hood gave Virginia Tech the ball at their own 37-yard line. Then a couple of long passes by Brewer, one for 25 yards to fullback Sam Rogers, and a 26-yarder to Ford put them in business.
Four plays later–on fourth-and-goal–Brewer found 6-foot-7 tight end Bucky Hodges to make it 24-17 with 2:54 remaining.
TJ Logan got the Tar Heels going with a 21-yard rush to begin their next drive, but on the next play Williams fumbled again–and again Virginia Tech recovered.
Starting from UNC’s 48-yard line, Brewer and Ford struck again–this time on a 36-yard bomb that set the Hokies up 12 yards from the end zone.
The script was similar to the previous drive, as Tech faced 4th-and-2. Only this time Ford got to finish what he started, hauling in a 4-yard score that ended up sending the game to overtime.
UNC won the coin toss to begin the extra period and chose to start out on defense.
Virginia Tech was unable to even gain a first down in their chance with the ball, going three-and-out and settling for a 41-yard field goal–meaning a touchdown would win it for the Tar Heels.
And that’s exactly what they got, pulling things together after unraveling late.
An 18-yard pass from Williams to Ryan Switzer got the ball rolling on the drive’s first play, before a false start penalty a couple snaps later put the team in a precarious position.
Third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. With the ACC Coastal Division on the line.
In the season opener against South Carolina, Williams was faced with the same situation and ended up throwing the ball into the outstretched arms of a defender–the only reason this team isn’t undefeated now.
This time, though, he found the outstretched arms of the program’s most decorated receiver. And with it, the right to play No. 1 ranked Clemson two weeks from now in Charlotte, his hometown.
“We knew we were going to have to play error-free,” Fedora said. “That’s what we talked about, just be really good in the fundamentals and the techniques, and be brilliant in the basics.
“And we didn’t, but we found a way to win.”
Although this win clinches the Coastal Division for the Tar Heels, they’ll still have to defeat the arch-rival NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh next week to keep their playoff hopes alive.
That’s all it will take for the No. 12 ranked UNC football team to clinch the ACC Coastal Division and continue its dream season.
Standing in front of them?
A date in Blacksburg against the Virginia Tech Hokies–in what will be the final home game for their legendary head coach, Frank Beamer.
Blowout victories over Duke and Miami in the last couple weeks have shown fans that head coach Larry Fedora’s team is a force to be reckoned with. Ranked 17th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, the 9-1 Tar Heels have been largely overlooked thanks to losing the season opener to a now 3-7 South Carolina team, and also for having a weak strength of schedule that hasn’t included a single top 25 opponent.
Because of that, UNC’s playoff credentials have been a hot button issue this week. But for senior quarterback Marquise Williams, none of it matters much at this point.
“It’s cool, but you can tell [the playoff committee] still doesn’t respect [us],” Williams said at Monday’s weekly press conference. “As long as [we] just keep winning football games—and keep winning by 30 and 40 points—I mean, eventually they’ll have to respect [us].
“It’s fun, but you can tell deep down inside they don’t wanna talk about Carolina football,” he added with a chuckle. “And that’s alright.”
The Tar Heels have an outside shot at making the four-team playoff for the national championship by winning out, and defeating Clemson in a potential ACC title game.
The next step, though, is to defeat Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium—notoriously one of the loudest environments in college football. Although the Hokies have struggled to an uncharacteristic 5-5 record so far, Fedora refuses to look past his opponent.
“It will be an extremely tough game, playing up there in Blacksburg,” Fedora said. “Especially with Coach Beamer’s last home game.
“There will be a tremendous amount of emotion,” he added. “I’m sure that there will be a lot of former players there to see him in his last game, and so we will definitely have our work cut out for us.”
Beamer has been the coach at Virginia Tech since 1987 and has won 234 games, made 22 bowl appearances, and produced NFL standouts like Michael Vick and DeAngelo Hall along the way. His teams have always been extremely sound on special teams and hard-nosed on defense—which Williams says could present a challenge this week for him and the rest of the dynamic Tar Heel offense.
“That’s always been a great defense,” Williams said about the Hokies. “You can’t look over them because they’re ready. [Defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s] gonna have them ready to go in this game for Frank Beamer and it’s exciting.
“They play [man-to-man coverage]” the senior continued. “They’re gonna make [us] beat them one-on-one, and make competitive catches.”
Part of the Tar Heels’ recent success has come because they have taken care of the football—avoiding turnovers in each of their past three games. That’s something Fedora and his staff have preached all year long.
But that’s not the only message he’s given to the team that has stayed consistent throughout the season.
“Coastal Division champs, state champs—that’s it,” Fedora said. “I don’t really get into it, I just tell [the players] our goal every week.”
He then added that, “We’re like trained pigs. We’ve got something and we just keep doing it over and over and over.”
That mindset has helped the UNC offense grow into one of the nation’s most dominant, while its defense has been by far the most improved—allowing just 19 points per contest in 2015 after giving up 39 a game just one year ago.
Senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer—who has been critical to that turnaround–has also not been afraid to tell the truth about what’s been on the minds of the Tar Heel players all week.
“We’re not worried about Frank Beamer’s last home game or any of that,” Schoettmer said. “We control our own destiny to win the Coastal and get to the ACC Championship. So that’s really what we’re worried about.”
The game is set to begin Saturday at noon, and will be broadcast live on WCHL’s radio airwaves (97.9 FM, 1360 AM). It will also be televised on ESPN.
Earlier in the week, UNC junior wide receiver Mack Hollins rode his bike around campus yelling, “History week!” to all that passed by–in an effort to get fans to come out to Kenan Stadium and watch the Tar Heel football team attempt to make history against Miami.
On Saturday afternoon, history was indeed made–as UNC stomped the Hurricanes 59-21 for its school record ninth win in a row. It was also the seventh win at home this year for the Tar Heels, which matches the record set by the 1980 team, the last group from Chapel Hill to win a league title.
Now, at 9-1 overall and 6-0 in conference play, the Tar Heels are in complete control of the ACC Coastal Division. To clinch it and reach the ACC Championship Game, they’ll need only one more win, or a loss from Pittsburgh.
The loss drops Miami to 6-4 in all games, and 3-3 within the ACC.
“We talked all week, this was history week,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said after the game. “They had an opportunity to make some history today, and be one of only two teams in 125 years to win seven games on that field.
“It was special, and there was a tremendous burden of responsibility to make sure that happened,” he added.
After trading the ball back-and-forth without scoring on the game’s first four drives, the Tar Heels broke through on their third opportunity when senior quarterback Marquise Williams’ scored on a 10-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter.
From there, the floodgates were opened–as the Tar Heels continually capitalized on Miami mistakes, including three turnovers and a handful of untimely penalties.
In his final home game, Williams put together a solid two-way performance–completing 11-of-16 throws for 105 yards, while running for another 101. All-in-all the playmaker accounted for four touchdowns in the game, one through the air to tight end Brandon Fritts, and the other three all on the ground.
“This is an incredible place that I’ll never forget” the quarterback said when he reflected on his time in Chapel Hill afterwards. “It’s emotional for me, and bittersweet at the same time. This place made me who I am.
“I came in as a young child that didn’t know anything, and I’ve matured a lot,” he continued. “I’ve grown and I’ve met a lot of great people–and they’ve changed me. This is the best place ever, man.”
On the drive following Williams’ initial score, sophomore tailback Elijah Hood broke through from the goal line for his 12th touchdown of the year. Just a couple minutes later, UNC fell on a botched snap deep in Miami territory to set up a 25-yard Nick Weiler field goal–a kick that put the home team ahead 17-0.
Hood finished the game with 132 yards on 17 carries, including his one-yard touchdown run.
“We don’t take a backseat to no one,” Hood said. “We don’t fear anybody. We know we can make plays, we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do and you’re gonna have to stop us. I think we can play with anybody, for sure.”
After driving the ball close to the red zone following the three-point try, Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya threw a back-breaking interception to senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer–who ran it all the way down to the opposing 14-yard line.
Williams ran the ball in for a score on the very next play.
Not wanting to be forgotten, junior Tar Heel receiver Ryan Switzer returned a punt 78 yards to the end zone with under a minute left before the break–giving UNC a commanding 31-0 lead.
This came despite the fact that UNC had just 189 total yards of offense in the first half, or three more than Miami had.
In the second half, the Tar Heels came out looking for the jugular–scoring touchdowns on their first four drives after coming out of the locker room.
Miami didn’t score its first points–a 9 yard passing touchdown from Kaaya to Lawrence Cager–until it was already trailing 45-0.
Kaaya finished the game with 326 yards on 24-of-43 passing, as the Tar Heels completely shut down the Hurricanes’ rushing attack–holding them to just 99 yards on 32 attempts.
The tradition all season long for UNC has been to have the backups play the fourth quarter to completion after the starters manhandle the opposition for the first three.
That was again the case in this game.
In the fourth quarter with the lead way out of reach, Miami added a pair of touchdowns–on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs–but that would be it for the visitors with the once proud football tradition.
Tar Heel backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky led a scoring drive of his own, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run from reserve tailback Charles Brunson. But with the game so far gone, the sophomore helped run out the last five minutes of the clock on the team’s final possession.
As the time reached triple zeroes, the UNC players cheered as they ran onto the field to congratulate their opponents–knowing they had just done something nearly unprecedented in their school’s long history.
“This team’s playing as a team,” Fedora said. “Everybody’s there to pick each other up, [saying] ‘I got your back.’ They’re doing the things that a team does.”
The coach paused for a second before adding, “This is a damn good football team.”
Only two games remain on UNC’s regular season schedule. Next week the team will travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in what will be the final home game for the Hokies’ legendary head coach, Frank Beamer.
When the UNC football team takes the field at Kenan Stadium this Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes it will be a matchup of two teams who have each broken tradition in a big way recently.
An afterthought on the college football landscape for many years, the Tar Heels are 8-1 in 2015, and have won eight games in a row—including an undefeated 5-0 record against conference opponents.
At 17th in this week’s AP Top 25, and 23rd in the College Football Playoff rankings, this UNC team is heading toward uncharted waters.
Just don’t tell that to senior quarterback Marquise Williams.
“We’re still irrelevant,” Williams said after posting a school-record 524 yards of total offense last week against Duke. “We like that. We like being irrelevant. It keeps a chip on our shoulder, and we like to play hard.
“If we continue to just win football games, eventually we’ll be known.”
Miami comes to Chapel Hill at 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the ACC. But the Hurricanes are no longer the perennial national championship contenders they once were.
Former head coach Al Golden was sent packing just under three weeks ago after a 58-0 loss to Clemson—the worst in the school’s history.
However, interim head coach Larry Scott has led the Canes to back-to-back victories over Duke and Virginia since taking over—leading UNC head coach Larry Fedora to hand out some praise at his weekly press conference.
“They definitely have a lot of talent, and they’re playing well,” Fedora said. “I think Larry [Scott]’s doing a good job with them. They’re gaining confidence as they go. I think they have the quarterback back I believe, and so they’re probably feeling pretty good right now.”
Brad Kaaya, Miami’s talented, 6-foot-4 sophomore quarterback, missed the Duke game with an injury. However, he’s thrown for over 2,000 passing yards and put together a touchdown to interception ratio of 12 to three–as he’s been unquestionably the most consistent offensive player for Miami this year.
Defensively, though, this is a group ranked 75th in the nation, giving up 410 yards per game. But looking at the film, Williams says they still have athletes good enough to run with anybody–including the explosive Tar Heels.
“Their defense has got a lot of life,” Williams said. “Big up front, very fast. This is a fast Miami team. You know those Florida boys have always been fast. And they come out and compete.”
The Charlotte native continued by recalling the stranglehold the brash, energetic Miami teams of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s had over young football fans.
“Growing up I was a Hurricane myself,” he said. “It’s gonna be fun to have the opportunity to play against those guys.”
Anyone watching this year has noticed that UNC is the new team on the block making all kinds of noise with its athletic exploits.
As the seniors head into this, their final home game, fifth-year offensive guard Landon Turner reflected on what it’ll mean to play underneath the Kenan Pines one final time–knowing the ACC Coastal Division can be won on Saturday if the Tar Heels beat Miami and Duke beats Pittsburgh.
“I feel comfortable enough with my maturity that I’ll be able to handle that,” Turner said about the emotions surrounding this weekend. “If anything it’ll probably give me a little more motivation, or give me an extra edge—just because I do know after this it’s my last game here.
“It’s been five years, and it’s been a great ride,” he added. “So I wanna go out and leave a legacy.”
Whether they’re ready or not, the Tar Heels are relevant again on the national scene.
The Hurricanes are fighting to get back to that point, and can speed things up by winning out and stealing the Coastal for themselves.
So if Turner and company want to be remembered as the class that re-wrote the narrative on Carolina football, they can start by beating Miami on Saturday.
The game will be carried live on WCHL’s airwaves, and will begin at 3:30 p.m.
The way all the jaws were hanging to the floor in Chapel Hill, it almost appeared as if the fans at Kenan Stadium had just seen a ghost–and in some ways they did.
Senior quarterback Marquise Williams put together a statistical performance normally only seen in video games–starting with an 89-yard flea flicker touchdown pass to junior Ryan Switzer on the team’s first offensive play.
It was something that the UNC coaches determined they would run right out of the gate if they saw a specific coverage they were looking for.
“If the safety is not gonna fit, you can’t run that play because he can be the backside safety and run over to where the ball’s gonna be placed at,” Williams said after the game. “And I was just praying, I prayed last night before I went to sleep hoping this play is the first play and the safety just fits.
“God answered my prayer,” he added.
From there, the Tar Heels refused to take their foot off the gas pedal, smashing any and every record they could get their hands on before the clock hit triple zeroes.
Having obviously eaten his Wheaties before the game, Williams completed 23-of-35 passes for 494 yards–a new school record–and accounted for five touchdowns in all. He also rushed for 30 yards, to finish with 524 total yards by himself–the first Tar Heel to ever break the 500 yard mark–in what was arguably the best performance ever by a UNC football player.
“Quise was on the money with it today,” Tar Heel head coach Larry Fedora said. “He did a really nice job. We got length on the outside, we got great quickness on the outside, so we’ve got great weapons in that area.”
UNC has now racked up eight consecutive wins, and has its fifth straight victory to begin ACC play. At 8-1 overall and 5-0 against conference opponents, Fedora has his squad sitting firmly atop the league’s Coastal Division.
Duke, meanwhile, has now lost two games in a row–dropping to 6-3 in all games, and 3-2 in conference play.
Coming into Saturday, the Blue Devils boasted the nation’s ninth ranked defense–a unit surrendering just 295 yards of offense per game.
But Williams and his uber-athletic group of receivers made scoring against the Duke secondary look like child’s play.
Along with Switzer’s crowd pleasing flea flicker touchdown, the Tar Heels scored in the first half on a 79-yard rainbow from Williams to Mack Hollins, and on a 49-yard dart to Bug Howard–a play that made the score 38-10 with just one second remaining before halftime.
Hollins set a career-high with 5 catches for 165 yards, while Switzer also broke the century mark–ending the game with 107 yards on 5 receptions. Howard caught three balls for 83 yards, nearly making it three receivers above the 100-yard threshold.
Star running back Elijah Hood scored three times on 17 carries, gaining 69 yards. His main contributions came as a blocker, though, picking up the blitz on a couple of Williams’ long touchdown throws.
“We feed off explosive plays, and we’re an explosive offense,” Hood said. “So one big play, and you’re bound for more, I think, with us.”
At halftime, UNC had already amassed 486 yards of total offense–before eventually finishing with 704. It’s just the third time in school history that the Tar Heels have reached the 700-yard plateau.
The Blue Devils found success running the ball against Gene Chizik’s defense with running backs Shaquille Powell (13 carries for 98 yards) and Jela Duncan (13 carries for 115 yards)–but simply could not keep up with the Tar Heels’ break-neck scoring pace.
Duncan’s 52-yard touchdown run in the second quarter brought the score to 21-10. That was the closest it would get the rest of the game.
“I heard one of the [Duke players] tell [Ryan] Switzer, ‘This is gonna be a long day,'” Williams said. “I started laughing when I heard a guy said that. I told Coach [Fedora], ‘We gotta keep going, we gotta keep going. The guy’s already feeling like this is gonna be a long game for ’em, so let’s keep going.'”
Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk struggled with his accuracy, completing just 18 of his 37 throws for 191 yards and two interceptions on the day. He did do some damage of his own in the running game, however, scrambling eight times for 74 yards–including a pair of touchdown scampers in the third quarter, one from 53 yards out and another from four yards away.
UNC continued to show no mercy, however, as Elijah Hood ran in two scores of his own in the quarter. Williams also found senior Quinshad Davis during the frame to make it four touchdown passes to four different receivers.
As has become the norm this season when the Tar Heels play at home, the fourth quarter was strictly a formality.
The backups, led by sophomore quarterback Mitch Trubisky, played out the final period–but not without getting in on the fun.
Trubisky ran in a score from two yards out to put UNC above the 60-point mark, the first time it has hit that total this season.
For the second straight year, the Victory Bell will reside in Chapel Hill–much to the delight of Mack Hollins and the rest of the Tar Heel team.
“All week at practice, the bell was [there],” Hollins said. “I was big into screaming, ‘Duke Week’ and ‘Ring my bell’, and all that stuff. So to have it on our sideline after, and to know that it’s ours for a whole ‘nother 365 [days] is a great feeling.”
The red-hot Tar Heels will play their final home game of the year next Saturday against Miami. As it stands right now, UNC controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division, and is in the driver’s seat for a spot in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
You will remember those numbers for the rest of your life. Now, enjoy more incredible postgame notes from GoHeels.com.
— 524 by Williams vs. Duke, 2015
— 469 by Williams vs. Old Dominion, 2013
— 463 by Williams vs. Georgia Tech, 2014
— 443 by TJ Yates vs. Florida State, 2010
— 435 by Williams vs. Notre Dame, 2014
— 2013 – 79 to Eric Ebron vs. Duke; 71 to Ebron vs. Miami
— 2014 – 91 to Mack Hollins vs. SDSU; 75 to Ryan Switzer at Clemson
— 2015 – 71 to Switzer at Pitt; 89 to Switzer vs. Duke; 74 to Hollins vs. Duke
— Darian Durant, 68
— Bryn Renner, 64
— TJ Yates, 58
– Marquise Williams, 52
But when the rivalry is renewed in Chapel Hill on Saturday, the Victory Bell won’t be the only thing at stake—which is a far cry from years past.
Winners of seven games in a row, the Tar Heels lead the ACC Coastal Division, are 4-0 against conference competition, and bring a 7-1 overall record into Saturday’s grudge match against coach David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils–who are 6-2 with a 3-1 conference mark.
UNC will also sport a fancy number next to its name during the broadcast for the first time this season, as the makers of the AP Top 25 ranked head coach Larry Fedora’s bunch as the 21st best squad in the land this week.
“I haven’t really talked to them about that,” Fedora said on Monday. “Because our goal hasn’t been to be in the poll. That’s not what our goal is. We’ve got bigger goals than that. That just happens to come with it.
“But it really doesn’t change who we are,” the coach continued. “Who we were [last] Thursday night [against Pitt] when we weren’t ranked and who we are today, we’re still the same team.”
Last week Duke was ranked 22nd in the polls, but lost to Miami by way of a miracle last second kickoff return. That play robbed fans of both schools from seeing them play as ranked football teams for the first time in 76 years.
For once, Tar Heels like senior receiver Quinshad Davis, had no clue how to feel about a Blue Devil loss.
“It was a love/hate thing,” Davis said about the wild finish. “Because [we] love that they lost, but we hate that they aren’t going to be ranked when we play ’em, and it’ll be a big time game.”
Kenan Stadium has been sold out for this meeting for over a week now, as the anticipation reaches basketball-level heights here in the Triangle area. Now that the football rivalry is beginning to spread its wings just a bit, Davis and the rest of his teammates are itching to hit the field and show what they can do in front of a packed house.
“[The rivalry’s] always been a big deal with the football team,” the receiver told reporters on Tuesday. “But as far as the fan base goes it’s become a big deal because both teams are winning and both have a chance to win the Coastal this year.”
For seniors like Davis, offensive guard Landon Turner, and quarterback Marquise Williams—this game is especially huge because they’ve played in it during times where neither team was on anyone’s national radar. Back then, it was all about the bell.
And in Turner’s eyes, that message has not been lost, regardless of what the standings say.
“It’s kinda nice to see it be big for everyone else, but it really hadn’t changed how we feel about it,” he said. “It’s the Battle for the Bell, and I think both teams–both football teams, not basketball teams–are really understanding of that.”
Over the last 24 games between the schools located just a handful of miles apart, the Tar Heels have dominated, going 21-3 in that span—including a 45-20 win in Durham last year where Williams was fantastic, throwing for 276 yards and accounting for four touchdowns.
“We took care of business last year, but this year’s a new year,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to keeping [the bell] here where it belongs.
The Charlotte native continued by acknowledging this is the senior class’s final chance at glory in this classic rivalry.
“It’d be great for my last year to keep the bell here, and have our fans ringing the bell after the game,” he said.
A win Saturday would keep the bell in Chapel Hill, while also playing a large role in sending UNC to a place it’s never been before—the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?
WCHL will be broadcasting the game live on our airwaves, with kickoff set to take place at noon. ESPN2 will have the TV coverage.