Every Thanksgiving, I realize that I’ve learned nothing from the previous year. The word sweeps through the house that the food is ready, and in nearly-practiced unison the gathered family and friends lay down hands of cards, peel themselves away from the NFL game in the living room, and begin to gravitate towards the most important of rooms: the kitchen. I walk through slowly, finally laying eyes on the sources of the aromas that have been filling my grandmother’s place since morning and (in vain) attempting to make a plan of attack. I find my way into the pseudo-queue of people whom I love, clutching the promise that is an empty plate close to my chest. Strategically, I think, I will grab only a little bit of each item I want, leaving room for a second pass after my palate has decided whether it would prefer more stuffing or more mashed potatoes.
The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, I’ve been told, and my plan of attack was half-baked at best. Twenty minutes later, I find myself at the table, a once-again-clean plate in front of me, an already full belly, and a nagging thought in the back of my head that there are a few things I missed and probably ought to go try. Inevitably, I make my way back into the kitchen and once again the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, and the turkey seem to multiply as soon as they hit my plate. Against my better judgment, I clean my plate once more, waiving my shot at dessert in favor of more stuffing, gravy, and maybe one more biscuit. An hour or so later, with Mike Tirico talking football somewhere in the background, I silently promise myself that next year I’ll be more measured in my approach to Thanksgiving dinner. This is my personal Thanksgiving tradition. It happened on Thursday, and will likely happen next year.
Sometimes, things are just that good. It’s not often that we are fortunate enough to be able to go back and get seconds of the things we love, and so we try to take advantage of the opportunity when it arises. There’s an argument to be made that 12 games in a football season is plenty. For just under half of all teams at the FCS level, this has to be true. The chance for these teams to go back and get seconds simply doesn’t arise, and so fans of these teams have to be satisfied with the 12 games in the regular season. NC State, having only won four games heading into tonight’s tilt, is nearly unavoidably in that situation. A win for the Tar Heels at Carter-Finley would be the sixth of the regular season, making the team from Chapel Hill bowl eligible for the first time since 2016 (for a glimpse at what that hypothetical bowl eligibility may look like, check out our updated bowl picture). The Wolfpack, not unlike the aunt that begins to pack the turkey away before you’ve decided definitively whether or not you need another bite or two, will be looking to deny North Carolina the opportunity to go back for seconds on the 2019 season. I’m sure NC State would love nothing more than to play spoilers for the Tar Heels’ season—misery loves company, and Raleigh has seen its share of misery this season. The Wolfpack has only managed one ACC win thus far this season, and the Heels will obviously be hoping to continue the pattern. It would be icing on the cake (or whipped cream on the pumpkin pie, if that’s your preference) for the win that extends Carolina’s season to come at the expense of NC State.
I’m not sure about you, but I would really enjoy one more taste of Carolina football before we head over to the Dean Dome to spend the holiday season with Coach Williams and his guys.