Of course the comparison is going to be made. It's inevitable. The seasons, the participants, and frustratingly enough the circumstances are almost identical. The only difference is two years and the home crowd, but otherwise it's the exact same run-up to Miami as it was in 2004.
North Carolina was coming off a bye week following an embarassing loss. It was only the latest of a series of blowout losses; the team had even given up an obscene number of points to the sacrificial D1-AA opponent. The season was in danger of slipping completely off the rails and Bunting in danger of losing his job. Something had to be done.
Enter Miami. At the time undefeated - there's one way in which Hurricane fans wish this season was like 2004 - the U came out looking for an easy tune-up before a tough November slate. Instead, they gave up 351 yards in the first half to a team that had trouble gaining that much in a game. A porous defense among the worst in the nation held the Hurricane ground game that included new 49ers hero Frank Gore to under a hundred yards. And it still came down to a last second field goal from a freshman kicker already 0-1 for the game.
The months since haven't been kind to the participants of that little game. For all that it saved the Tar Heels season, they went 2-2 on the rest of the year, only beating Wake Forest and Duke. Their total record since the game is 8-11, and lo and behold, the team is right back where it was two years ago. Miami's gone 13-7 since then, which while great in Chapel Hill is a far cry from the 50-4 record Larry Coker took into Chapel Hill that day. Even Connor Barth's only gone 19 for 31 in field goals since that game (He's a perfect 3/3 this year, though).
Is it going to be another 2004? The optimist in me has been beaten into submission, but the Heels have had a week to rebuild, and Miami's sputtering offense maybe what UNC's stumbling defense needs. The Hurricanes have the home crowd though, and despite getting a measure of revenge last year, will have heard the same comparisons as everyone else. Miami hasn't led the the Tar Heels at the half in over forty years, and this is a team that won't allow itself to be punched in the mouth again like Louisville. Either way, expect the comparisons to be flying fast and thick.