The Wolfpack will face off with UNC on Saturday November 2, 2013. The Tar Heels will hope to grab a victory that early November day, even if it’s in the dramatic fashion of last year’s punt-return for a touchdown run—courtesy of Giovani Bernard. It was a heart-breaking good time to watch N.C. State fans silent, with their hands on their heads in disbelief. Yes, I was there. Yes, it was great. Yes, I think UNC demoralizes the Wolfpack this year too.
The importance of beating State cannot be understated. It is the equivalent of beating dook in basketball. It is bragging rights and for those in the state of North Carolina, bragging rights over your N.C. State friends through the rest of the year. So, how will both teams match up?
The Wolfpack have lost their quarterback, Mike Glennon, to graduation. This is great news for the somewhat shaky secondary of UNC. Watching the game in the stands, it felt like every good play we made on offense, they would match through the air. Glennon was the bright light on the field for N.C. State, leading them to an impressive 18th in the nation through the air, averaging 310 yards per game. He completed 310 passes for over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns.
And we don’t have to worry about him anymore.
State still has some strong receivers in rising junior Tobais Palmer, with 54 receptions, 781 yards, and 6 touchdowns last season. They’ve also got long-ball threat Quintin Payton, the 6’4’’ rising senior who pulled in 51 receptions and just under 800 yards.
They’re fairly weak on the ground, coming in at an abysmal 111th last season in rushing yards per game with 111 an outing. Still, they’re relatively young at this position. Shadrach Thornton is only a rising sophomore who got the ball 154 carries for 694 yards last season and a pair of touchdowns. He’ll grow into the role. UNC needs to keep an eye on this guy.
On paper, the Tar Heels sit pretty. Bryn Renner is entering his senior season in Coach Larry Fedora’s run-and-gun style offense. Renner helped lead UNC to a 8th overall position in the “Points For” category, nationally, as well as 26th in passing yards at 291 yards an outing. However, they lost All-American Giovani Bernard to the NFL draft and welcome a new coach to the defensive side of the ball.
Still, UNC looks good. N.C. State? Not so much.
So, why is important that the Tar Heels take out State? It’s a statement game. Dook has never been a football powerhouse. Wake Forest has dropped off the proverbial football map. ECU’s gotten better in recent years, but they’re still a couple seasons away. The only two giants left in the great state of North Carolina that matter are N.C. State and UNC.
By UNC beating State, it sends a clear message to the rest of the Tar Heel state that Chapel Hill is the king of the mountain. And, with North Carolina being the only state in the ACC to hold four conference teams (UNC, State, dook, Wake Forest), it lets the rest of the ACC know who is in charge of the largest state (team-wise) in the conference.
North Carolina Chapel Hill has really risen to a perennial powerhouse in football over the last couple of seasons, and I think with another strong season under their belt, UNC will start to pull more respect from ACC opponents from other states as well. Everyone, especially N.C. State, must hate the fact that we normally dominate in basketball and now football. But, hey, this is the Tar Heel state.