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Parity's a Bitch

I get the impression I'm supposed to be more shocked at UNC's victory over Miami than I actually am. Other folks are, but I can only remember being truly suprised by a UNC football win four times:

  1. The 31-9 upset of Southern Cal that kicked off the 1993 season. True, it wasn't among the finest Trojan teams, being coach John Robinson's first game, but the Heels hadn't beat a big name school in who knows how long. This was the signifier that Carolina's previous bowl season was not a fluke, and they'd go on to begin one of their best stretches of football through the '90s.
  2. The 45-0 stomping of Clemson to kick off the 1996 season. UNC had needed a last second win over N.C. State the previous year just to qualify for a bowl, and now they we're blowing out the Tigers in a downright embarassing fashion. Carolina would go on to lose only to FSU and then Virginia in a game that pretty much cost them an Orange Bowl bid. No one was expecting that level of dominance in the season opener.
  3. The long-awited first win against Florida State. Up to that point only Virginia and N.C. State had managed to beat the Seminoles in conference play, and UNC entered the game 0-3, having been trounced by Oklahoma, Maryland, and Texas. To make matters worse, FSU had beaten the Heels 63-14 the previous year. And UNC destroyed this team. I had been in Santa Barbara for two weeks, and this was my first experience following a game from the ESPN Bottom Line. And the score just kept going up, and up, and up...
  4. The 2004 Miami upset. That's undefeated, championship-contending Miami, falling to a 3-4 UNC team on Connor Barth's field goal. It sent the Hurricane's season into a tailspin, and may be pne of the best Tar Heel performances of the last ten years.
Those games were surprises. This one? It's the new ACC, where only Boston College is showing any ability to pull away from the pack. The rest of the league is consistently mediocre, and in a season where truly good teams are being upset every week, there's no shock in this win. Hell, I even called it back in September:
Miami at UNC: I suppose this game could play out like the last matchup in Chapel Hill did. I know I'd like it to, and Butch Davis should still know the Hurricanes pretty well... What the hell, you talked me into it. It's not a preseason ACC Picking unless I'm wildly optimistic about at least one Tar Heel matchup.

There's a saying about a blind squirrel that's eeriely appropriate here. And please ignore all the wrong guesses on that page.

This is the downside to the increased parity of college football - well this, and having to have championship discussions involving South Florida, Cincinnati, and Cal - that a game that would have been truly shocking a few years back is lost in a sea of more important upsets. That, and it makes the lack of a playoff even more glaring, but that's probably another post.