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UNC-Rutgers: The Media Storylines

Because we are not allowed to just play the game there have to be memes and a framework in which to interpret it.

1. UNC looking to turn the corner

The News and Observer is calling it a "crossroads."  Caulton Tudor says this is Butch Davis' chance to prove the Heels are on the rise and manages to do so without mentioning the pay raise.  The interesting aspect of the media coverage in this regard is they have attempted to anticipate it.  UNC was a dark horse team for many in the preseason polling and this game is being seen as the initial validation of that faith.  Witness the many predictions in the local media of a UNC win.  Some of that is based on Rutgers horrid performance against Fresno St.  Mainly it is based on the belief that UNC is ready to move from the basement of perpetual suckitude to at least the landing above the first flight of stairs.

2. Did you know Butch Davis and Greg Schiano are friends?

This will be one of those items that by halftime you will be sick of hearing about.  Schiano was an assistant under Davis at Miami and in the subsequent years have remained friends.  Shocking I know.  Of course it bears zero relevance for this game.  Unfortunately any game broadcast you watch now is full of these pointless side stories that are somehow supposed to ascribe meaning to the game.  It also gives fodder the announcers in between plays because you know people at the stadium without this babbling are the ones really missing out.

3. UNC has not won on the road outside North Carolina since my daughter was in diapers.

There are two edges to this sword.  One is, yes, it is sort of a bad trend that UNC has not won a game outside the state since 2002.  On the other side, football is given to streaks like this because there are fewer games and schedules alternate.  I do agree it is something UNC should resolve, not so much to break a streak but rather to prove they can win on the road and not just in rivalry games which is what the games inside NC are.  Winning this one on the road is also a part of the Heels gaining confidence by knowing they have gone into tough places and won anyway.  A very handy outlook to have with Miami, UVa and Maryland on the road.

4. Actual football stuff like UNC's running game and defensive line

Alternate title: Playing better than they did against McNeese State.  Since both teams have one game each under their collective belts and neither played extremely well plenty will be made of their performance in this game as compared to the last one.  For UNC this will engender a lot of talk about a running game that never got on track versus a Rutgers run defense than was the track against Fresno St.  UNC's defensive line will be discussed because of the zero sack total in the opener which must be corrected against a team that likes to pass the ball.  Mike Teel needs to spend some time on the ground if UNC wants to win this game and that begins and ends with the defensive line dominating matters upfront.

5. 9/11

The Greensboro News and Record is calling it an "emotional evening."  I know for myself this day in history will always carry certain emotions.  I remember where I was when I heard the news.  I recall the anger and sadness that my country had been attacked.  For my generation this was Pearl Harbor.  September 11th does not escape me without a pause to think about what happened, all those who died, especially those who gave their lives to save others.  On the flip side of that, while I remember the events of that day I am also thankful that this country is still free and something as trivial as a football game on a Thursday night is still there for us to enjoy despite the efforts of those that seek our destruction.  For those who gave what Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion" I pause to remember the cost and for those who keep vigil over out country I offer my gratitude.