There are few words to describe the scene that happened in Raleigh Saturday night. The final score, ugly as it is, somehow doesn’t even do the situation justice. If you missed it, just know that UNC lost 39-20 to NC State, and that anyone who did watch is probably very jealous of your good fortune.
Mack Brown said that the first half against NC State was possibly the worst half ever by one of his teams, and it’s hard to argue with that. The Tar Heels were ineffectual to the point that it looked like they were playing a different game. Drake Maye completed all of one pass in the first half while the defense virtually lived on the field. The Wolfpack took advantage of all the opportunities and poured on the offense, which somehow still could have been worse, resulting in a 26-7 halftime lead for State.
Things were sketchy from the start. Carolina was slipping all over the field right from the jump to an egregious extent. It was less of a factor as the second half chugged along, but certainly didn’t disappear entirely. Whatever was going on with the field, it definitely looked like the Wolfpack were more prepared for it.
When it looked like the Tar Heels may be showing signs of life with the offense late in the third quarter/early in the fourth, an unfortunate diving interception and a sack that injured Maye’s ankle enough that he had to come out really threw cold water on any attempt at a comeback. The whole was very likely too big to climb out of anyway, but any belief that they could was kind of squashed with those two plays.
As had been the case before UNC ever took the field in Raleigh, the Heels limped to the finale of the regular season. It would be nice if someone had answers for why and how things ended up going this far off the rails, to the point that it reached the rock bottom of tonight’s game, but no answer is likely to be satisfactory.
So everything is bad, everyone is frustrated, and all of it is warranted. It’s impossible to escape the sour taste of feeling like a generational talent at quarterback was wasted — that the program’s best shot to be truly relevant just had the door slammed shut.
We’ll find out later if that’s overreacting, but right now it seems pretty fair.
Carolina will now await their bowl game fate to find out when they’ll finish their season.