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UNC 29, Notre Dame 24

In retrospect, the ending of the game shouldn't have been a surprise. Hell, both of UNC's offensive touchdowns had to be earned twice - why wouldn't the ending of the game also get two tries? And after an afternoon of horrible refereeing - forget what the calls were, the lateness of them and the number of video reviews were ridiculous - why wouldn't the zebras step in for one more shot at screwing the whole thing up?

In the end the refs didn't give the game away - being there, I haven't seen whether they made the right call on the UNC 10, but given that they made the wrong one a minute earlier and shouldn't have even been reviewing the final play (the following snap had already occurred) I'll let it slide either way. It was an agonizing game nonetheless, with a UNC defense that managed to look panicked and confused before practically every snap but still clamp down on the Irish offense, driving Jimmy Clausen to two interceptions and a fumble despite rarely sending more than three players after the QB. The Heels got a little closer to finding a running game, handing the ball in the second half to a combination of Shaun Draughns and Ryan Houston. The passing game sputtered a bit, although Hakeem Nicks had his standard stellar performance; Brandon Tate left the game in the 1st with a sprained knee - believe me, the rumors flying around my bleacher section were much worse - and Brooks Foster had uncharacteristically poor hands that kept the ball from heading his way for most of the game.

Clausen ran up some gaudy stats - 31 of 48 for 383 yards - primarily by exploiting the short passes over the middle with greater frequency than the similarly-styled Rutgers team did a month ago. The one-dimensionality of the game helped, as Notre Dame didn't send a tailback into the gam until the third offensive series. I'm not sure why, as they weren't unsuccessful with the run, but leaving the game in Clausen's hands went poorly in the second half, starting with Quan Sturdivant's interception for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. And although the teams traded touchdowns after that, primarily due to a UNC roughing the kicker penalty that extended Notre Dame's drive, Aleric Mullins rush that knocked the ball out of Clausen's hands that rally turned the tide. The Heels took the lead on the ensuing offensive series, and although Clausen could still move the ball after that, the secondary coverage was more solid, a lot more scrambling was involved, and the Irish couldn't get a rhythm together to regain the lead.

Overall, it was a great, put-the-team-on-the-map win for Carolina, and if they can avoid a letdown in the next two weeks, they just might enter November bowl eligible and vying for the conference championship. They definitely could have used a better officiating crew, though.