The reports of UNC's demise were apparently premature.
After three weeks of mostly substandard football that led to questions about what the rest of the season would hold, Carolina played arguably its best game since the season opener and blitzed a pretty good Wake Forest team, 49-24.
For the first time in weeks, UNC looked well-prepared and plugged in from the opening kickoff. The offense was fairly crisp (generating 562 yards) and held onto the football while the defense actually played pretty well in spots. The Deacons were generous in their own right with the ball coughing it up five times and the Heels capitalized, leading to the first comfortable win in a long time.
With that in mind, here is the bowl-eligible version of the GBU:
Bryn Renner: Welcome back to the good Bryn Renner. Renner was 21-28 for a career-high 338 yards and three TDs. He made much better decisions in the pocket and while he is still underthrowing the ball a little bit, he took a big step forward on Saturday and shook off last week's disastrous performance.
Gio Bernard: Another amazing day for the freshman, who rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns, with a receiving touchdown added on for good measure. Bernard has rushed for 965 yards on the season.
Dwight Jones/Erik Highsmith: Carolina's big-play receivers played like big-play receivers. Jones had six catches for 138 yards, and Highsmith had four grabs and two touchdowns.
Zach Brown: Brown followed up last week's solid performance with nine tackles, including 2 1/2 tackles for loss, an interception, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Expect an increase in "What can Brown do for you?" jokes this week.
Defensive strategy: No, this is not a mistake. Defense play calling is actually going into the "good" category. UNC mixed up the defenses, actually blitzed some, which forced Wake QB Tanner Price into some bad decisions. Also, UNC's secondary was not torched as they kept Wake's receivers underneath and therefore prevented the deep ball. It was refreshing to see some actual strategizing from the defensive staff for a change.
Offensive line: Their performance actually improved into the "bad" category instead of the "ugly" this week. They must receive some credit for generating over 500 yards of total offense but still gave up two sacks and seven other tackles for loss while generally getting outplayed by a much smaller D-line.
ESPNU: Watching a game called by Pam Ward and Dan Hawkins is always an adventure, and the mistakes in graphics are fun. Thankfully I watched most of the game on the DVR, so I minimized my Ward exposure.
Kicking game: Thomas Hibbard had a punt blocked and another one should have been, and Thomas Moore missed a field goal, although it was a 47-yarder. These things will come back to hurt the team at some point.
Now the pressure of bowl-eligibility is removed and UNC is past the Committee on Infractions circus, the team can focus on the last three games, starting with the 800-lb. gorilla on its back known as the losing streak to NC State. Still, the performance today goes a long way towards reestablishing some confidence in the team going forward.