UNC fans across the great state of North Carolina usually have the odd neighbor who eschews Carolina blue in favor of that awful Duke blue or even Wolfpack red. Their flags and decorative mailbox covers are the blemishes on an otherwise flawless figure across the Tar Heel state.
For UNC fans outside of North Carolina, these clashes are rare. In an Air Force career that has seen me lay temporary roots in Texas, Virginia, England, Korea, and Hawaii, I have not lived near any fans of my Tobacco Road rivals. That distance has led to peace, comfort, and tranquility. I do not have arguments with Duke “fans” or Wolfpeckers at the grocery store or barber shop.
For the past three and a half years, I’ve been stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. I live on base in family housing. My neighbors come from all corners of the United States, and many proudly display their school colors on flags by the front door. My neighbors have included alumni from Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, the Citadel, Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, Kansas, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, and all of the service academies.
Save for conference opponents, most of us do not have natural rivalries, therefore we live free of conflict.
Except for my neighbors across the street.
Aggie neighbors literally across the street. Counting on my Tar Heels to win the Orange Bowl so I don't have to hear it from them. pic.twitter.com/69ghcvFs6Y— Michael McKay (@LABMcKay) January 1, 2021
Drew and Robyn Powers are both Texas A&M grads (2005 and 2004, respectively). Proud Aggies, both. Drew had to spend four years in the Corps of Cadets, while I had the good sense to be a normal student at Carolina. We’ve been neighbors for the better part of four years, and except for the disastrous 2018 NCAA second-round flameout against 7th-seeded A&M, our schools have not come into conflict.
That changes on Saturday. Robyn and Drew, like all Aggies, will feel a little hard done by the CFP committee dropping Texas A&M from the playoffs in favor of Notre Dame. They’ll point to their win over a full-strength Florida as evidence that they deserved to make the playoffs over the Irish. I’d counter that Notre Dame has a better resume, including the win over an underhanded (but strong) Clemson and, even more impressively, a 14-point win at North Carolina. Notre Dame is the only team this year that has left Kenan Stadium victorious.
Carolina will have to overcome roster shortcomings due to opt-outs if they are to win their first ever Orange Bowl. So far, Texas A&M has not had any. They’re currently a 7.5 point favorite in Vegas, and our SB Nation sister site Good Bull Hunting predicts a 10-point victory. All of this means that a Carolina defeat is assured, and anything less than a double-digit victory over the Tar Heels will be proof positive that the CFP committee is all-knowing and wisely kept Notre Dame in as the rightful #4 seed.
Level-headed Carolina fans will wish the Gruesome Twosome of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, Dyami Brown, and Chazz Surratt well on their way to the NFL. The Orange Bowl will be a sneak preview into what Mack Brown 2.0’s team looks like in year three, and there’s a lot to be excited about. Hopefully Sam Howell’s 2021 Heisman campaign gets a head start in Miami.