It doesn't make up for 1996. Not by a longshot. Nor does it erase the memories of 2008, 1983, or the shutout in the dismal season of 2006. It is a larger margin of victory than those four games combined, however, which helps.
Yes, after fourteen consecutive losses in Charlottesville UNC broke through in truly dominant fashion to win at Scott Stadium 44-10; all it took was a new coach on the Cavalier sideline, the worst Virginia football team in twenty-eight years and me being six time zones away. Since overnight trains in Central Europe do not appear to carry ACC football games – or accommodate people taller than 5'7" – there's not much I can add at this point you haven't already elsewhere. The Heels dominated from the very first snap, when Dwight Jones turned a short pass into an 81-yard scamper for his first of two touchdowns. Carolina scored on their first five offensive possessions, while nabbing two of what would turn out to be five interceptions from UVa in the same time period. Had it been anywhere but the cursed ground of Charlottesville, the game could have been successfully written off before the end of the first half.
T.J. Yates continued to quietly excel – he remains third in the ACC in passing yards, second in efficiency, and has thrown the fewest interceptions in conference. The defense, buoyed by the return of Linwan Euwell but still without Kendric Burney, who was only cleared to return yesterday, allowed Virginia to manage 151 yards on the ground, but that can be forgiven in light of the five interceptions by five different players. The pass defense is fully clicking, a must with the impressive but erratic Jacory Harris on the slate for Saturday. Unfortunately, the offensive line and special teams looks as weak as they did before I left. And losing Zach Pianalto to a fractured fibula for the season, this one at least not on a touchdown, will do serious damage to the Carolina offense, as he has been Yates' favorite target this season.
There was a fair amount of grumbling that the fourth straight win should have returned the Heels to the Top 25; instead they received a mere 8 votes in each poll. I think they're definitely a Top 25-caliber team, with their only two losses coming to the undefeated, (albeit worst 7-0 team ever) LSU and Georgia Tech early while the team is in flux, but I can't really justify kicking anyone out currently ranked. (Only two computer polls, Anderson-Hester and Colley, rank the Heels. Not coincidentally, they are two polls that have LSU as 1st and 2nd, respectively.) Nor can I really be moved to care – midseason rankings just don't matter, and if UNC beats Miami, they will likely crack the Top 25. That's a bigger if than I would like at this point in the season, but at least the Heels are playing as well as is to be expected. If they can make it through the D1-AA hliday in two weeks without a loss, there will be time to reassess.