Carolina's football team is 1-5 at the halfway mark of the season with ACC games against Virginia, Georgia Tech, Duke and N.C. State left on the schedule. Each is winnable. Each is loseable as well if the Tar Heels' penchant for making turnovers and failing to convert the “ordinary plays” at crunch time keeps rearing its ugly head.
“It's pretty heartbreaking,” QB Nathan Elliott said after Saturday's 40-37 double-overtime loss at Syracuse. “I thought we had multiple opportunities we could have sealed the game, but we didn't do that. We've got to be better in those situations.”
The crushing loss followed the Tar Heels' 22-19 disappointment a week earlier at home against Virginia Tech. That's two consecutive ACC losses of three points each, which students of Tar Heel football will find interesting in that the total six-point loss margin is tied for second lowest since World War II in narrowness of back-to-back defeats.
Tar Heel Lettermen from different eras will remember these pairs of losses:
* The 1985 Tar Heels ended the year with two-point losses to Virginia by 24-22 and Duke by 23-21. Those games followed a narrow one-point win over Clemson at home and left Carolina with a 5-6 record.
* 1961 losses to Duke 6-3 and Wake Forest 17-14 en route to a 5-5 record.
* 1987 losses to Clemson 13-10 and Virginia 20-17.
* 1989 losses to Navy 12-7 and Wake Forest 17-16.
* 1998 losses to Miami (Ohio) 13-10 and Stanford 37-34.
* And 2007 losses to N.C. State 31-27 and Georgia Tech 27-25.
“We are just so close, man,” tailback Antonio Williams said. “It does hurt every time. I think we're going to figure it out. We're going to figure it out. We're so close … so … close.”
“They can't give any more effort than what they are giving,” Larry Fedora said. “I've got to do a better job of put them in a position to finish a game off.”
After ending the three-decade long “Curse of Charlottesville” in 2010, the Tar Heels have won four straight at Virginia, so they'll be looking to extend that to five in a 12:20 kickoff this week. They had won seven in a row total over Virginia before losing last year during that 3-9 debacle of a season.