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UNC 44, Rutgers 12

Admit it. You called somebody.

Everybody's got that one other Carolina friend, the guy (or gal) you call during UNC games. You haven't had a reason to call during football season for quite some time, and the last time you did it was probably to complain that Bunting should be fired. And tonight, you made that call.

This is football you haven't seen since the UNC-FSU game of 2001, or the Mack Brown era. Carolina came out cold, with a three and out, and a defense that immediately gave up fifty-plus yards. And through the first quarter it looked like every other game of the last ten years, with a team that you knew had talent but just couldn't execute. 

And then the defense woke up, getting the first of the defense's four interceptions from Charlie Brown. And although the offense sputtered and only got a tying field goal, the momentum shifted. Yates put together he first touchdown drive off a poor Rutgers punt, then let Brandon Tate loose on the opening play of the next drive for a 69 yard TD reception.

Going into the second half, my big worry was that Carolina would come out sluggish, confident with an eleven-point lead. Instead, the defense tightened down, Yates put together a great extended drive (including a third down gutsy run directly in to the Knights' linebackers for a first down) that was followed up almost immediately by Bruce Carter's interception return for UNC's fourth touchdown. At this point the game was over at 31-6, and UNC didn't let up.

There's almost a scary amount of things to rave about in this game. Robert Quinn's off the bench defensive stops. Brandon Tate's continuing to rack up the yardage. A running game that was established and then proceeded to bounce off Rutgers linemen like it was a game of pinball. A defense that just owned the Scarlet Knights, starting by denying them the deep pass, consistently denying them the first downs when they shifted to short passes over the middle, and defending the running game like I haven't seen in a decade. I'm positively giddy. I'm as optimistic as I usually am in the preseason, and now I actually have a reason

I know, on an intellectual level, that the entire year won't be like this. Carolina could bring the same old collection of miseries to Virginia Tech next Saturday, and I'll be just as miserable as I've been the last ten years. But until then, this is fun. Rutgers may turn out as awful as UNC was two years ago, it still won't diminish this game. Hell, the announcers were using this game to redeem the entire Atlantic Coast Conference. Halfway through the third quarter, I dropped the cash for the UNC-Maryland game; that's how excited I am. And most importantly, most deliciously, most thank-God-it's over, it puts a stake in that damn 20-loss streak outside of the state of North Carolina stat. I never have to hear that damn thing again. Bwah-ha-ha.

Enjoy this. Bask in it. Giggle maniacally, if that's your thing. This was fun.