Also get me a three piece white, french fries and a large sweet tea. Thanks.
So we come to UNC's rivalry stretch which actually covers two weeks. I know, everyone else only has to deal with one heated rival. UNC has two and dare I say it, the one this week carries more heat than next week vs Duke, though losing to Duke is a shame UNC could really do without. No, the NC State game is the biggie with lots of added extras in this season's edition that would make winning so much sweeter.
1. Butch Davis going 0-4 against Tom O'Brien is pretty much unacceptable
Tom O'Brien is a thorn in the side of Butch Davis and has been from Day 1. The loss in 2007 was not earth shattering since UNC had been winning in the series vs Chuck Amato. NCSU was due and we all lived with it. In 2008, UNC had control of the Coastal Division until the week prior to the NCSU game when the played poorly at Maryland. That result caused Davis to get very antsy about the QB position. T.J. Yates had been cleared to return from injury but Cam Sexton had been playing well until the Maryland game. So Davis decides to swap QBs and give Yates his job back despite evidence Sexton was just as good or better. Then a comedy of errors ensued in the form of Yates being rusty, poor ball protection and a defense that decided not to show up. NCSU won 41-10 which stung in so many ways. Last year was supposed to be it right? UNC was on a hot streak which included beating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. UNC jumped out quickly on NCSU but a series of mistakes and Russell Wilson picking UNC apart allowed the Wolfpack into the game. Casey Barth missed his first FG in what had seemed like forever and that ended up being crucial as UNC lost by one denying them a nine win season. Call it a curse. Call it a rut. Call it whatever you want. It has to stop. Going 0-4 vs NCSU won't get Butch Davis fired but for fans it will be an issue and given the NCAA troubles, Davis could use as few issues with the fans as possible. After all, why do you think he has all of sudden decided to wear Carolina blue everything on the sidelines this season?
2. Crushing NCSU's Atlantic Division title hopes
NC State is presently in control of their own destiny in the Atlantic Division. If NCSU wins out then they earn a second shot at Virginia Tech(Hokies have not clinched but they likely will) in the ACC Championship game. Nothing would be more fun than to knock the Wolfpack off that particular path, well at least until 8 PM Saturday night when Maryland gets a chance to put the Wolfpack back in play should the Terps beat FSU. Even then NCSU would have to knock off Maryland in College Park, not an easy task. UNC can play the role of spoiler here. Is that spiteful? Yes. Yes it is.
3. A respite from NCAA related trash talk from NCSU fans
Ever since the NCAA launched its investigation into UNC football, the primary peddler of schadenfreude has been NC State fans. Yeah, Duke fans are enjoying it to but since Blue Devil football fans are mythical in nature(like unicorns) we pay less attention to them. No, it has been Wolfpack Nation dishing the grief like any good rival would with some extra hate derived from 20 years of bitterness over their own NCAA troubles during the Jim Valvano days. It has been Christmas for them in July, August, September, October and November at least every Thursday, if not more often since this crap hit the fan. Beating NCSU will not wipe away the NCAA troubles. Heck, it might make them scream even louder. Iit will stop the bleeding vs Tom O'Brien and give UNC fans the first bright spot within the context of the rivalry in a long while.
4. Bowl slotting
This is less about rivalry and more about UNC's overall position in the ACC bowl order. If UNC can win out it puts them at 5-3 in the ACC and 8-4 overall. Based on how it shakes out between MD/FSU and then NCSU/MD, UNC could end up fourth in line, possibly third if Miami a bowl opts to skip Miami to take UNC. Of course UNC could also find themselves much lower in the order as well. Some of it is out of their control but what they can take care of is putting themselves at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC with wins over NC State and Duke. It would be nice to at least see UNC moved up the bowl pecking order a bit. Plus, UNC finishing the regular season at 8-4 means the nine win mark is on the menu.
5. In-state program superiority
Two years ago in the aftermath of "41-10" Tom O'Brien boldly declared his Wolfpack team was the "best program in the state." At the time, NCSU had just capped off a clean sweep of all I-A schools in the state. At the time I said declaring yourself "best program" was incorrect since program portends a long view. Was NCSU the best team in the state for that season? Yes since you cannot argue with 4-0. How about since then?
Wins: UNC(2009), Wake Forest(2010) Losses: Duke and Wake Forest(2009), ECU(2010)
Wins: Duke(2009), ECU(2010) Losses: NCSU(2009)
If UNC can close out NCSU and Duke that would give them a 3-0 mark vs NC schools in 2010 and make them 4-1 since the infamous "best program" quote from O'Brien. A win by UNC would drop NCSU to 2-4 versus in-state rivals in 2009 and 2010. Given UNC is now dominating the in-state recruiting, it would be nice to see that reflected on the field versus NC State.
Not that anyone wearing a Tar Heel uniform should need any of the above reasons to go out and beat the living crap out of NC State. The fans expect it and the players better come out like rabid dogs ready to hurt people and score points, preferably in that order.
Anything else is a waste of my time.