With a win Saturday in Raleigh, the Heels improved to 3-5 on the year and continued building steam for what could potentially become a 6-game win streak to end the regular season. What’s better, the boys in blue laid claim to their state for another 364 days (give or take a week, depending on scheduling).

What was witnessed over the weekend in Carter-Finley was far from a crisp display of football, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for Carolina fans everywhere. Though there were no chrome domes or electrifying last-minute punt returns to generate excitement, this did little to detract from the overwhelming sense of satisfaction earned by beating the Pack in their own backyard.

But why does a victory over an unranked team with no ACC wins bring such joy to those in Chapel Hill? Because the Wolfpack have decided time and time again to make things personal.

Of course, this is the definition of a rivalry game. It’s a game that’s important simply because two teams and their respective fanbases hate one another. But Saturday’s battle went a bit deeper. When a large group of Carolina players decided to throw an impromptu party on top of the midfield logo following the final handshakes Saturday it was more than a celebration; it was a retaliation punch.

State fans seemed outraged by what they declared was a completely classless act, but is anyone honestly surprised that this happened? All it takes is a cursory glance at the Pack Pride message boards to see the level of hate many State backers hold for “UNC-CHeat” (brilliant, right?), so why do they seem so offended to have this hate reciprocated in even a small way? The same crowd horrified by the Carolina stomping of the ECU…err, umm…N.C. State logo at midfield had no earlier qualms with cheering while UNC quarterbacks Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams, in separate instances, lay on the field injured.

Additionally, if you’re going to launch a campaign laying claim to North Carolina as “our state,” you have to be willing to face some blowback. Not only is the slogan obnoxious, it’s laughably untrue. If you sincerely want the rights to call the state your own, you had better be able to back up the billboards with something more than bass fishing championships.

These are a few of the many reasons why beating NCSU is a cathartic experience, regardless of their rank or record. This satisfaction has perhaps only grown in recent years in the wake of what I’ll simply refer to as the Marvin Austin saga. With the constant conspiracy theories and countless amateur private investigators working ‘round the clock in Raleigh, it’s truly gratifying just to silence the Pack for an afternoon.

For several years now, I’ve heard State fans and students alike insisting that the Wolfpack are most certainly our rivals. I have to agree. I’m just not sure that they understand what it means to be acknowledged.