There’s not been this much buzz around Tar Heel football since 1997, the last time Carolina went this deep into the season with just one loss. The Tar Heels with their resounding 66-31 thumping of Duke on Saturday are now ranked No. 17 in the nation and can clinch the Coastal Division title of the ACC with a win over Miami Saturday and a Duke win over Pitt.
The Hurricanes come to Kenan Stadium for a 3:30 game. At 5-0 in the ACC, Carolina would become 6-0 and Pitt, the closest competition, would fall to 4-2 by losing in Durham. That would give Carolina the tie-breaker edge over both Pitt and Duke in event the Tar Heels would lose to Virginia Tech and N.C. State on the road in the last two games of the season.
It was a record-setting day in many respects Saturday before a capacity crowd in Kenan Stadium. The 66 points were the most Carolina has ever scored against Duke and in an ACC game. Carolina compiled 704 total yards of offense, the third-most in UNC single-game history. UNC had 721 vs. Old Dominion in 2013 and 714 vs. Maryland in 1993. QB Marquise Williams set a school record with 524 total yards of offense and accomplished that in less than three quarters. The 524 yards are the sixth-most in ACC single-game history. Williams eclipsed his own previous UNC record of 469, which he set against Old Dominion in 2013.
Most of the damage came on big plays through the air as the Tar Heels took advantage of the Blue Devils’ emphasis on crowding the line to stop tailback Elijah Hood. Tar Heel coach Larry Fedora, in fact, was left somewhat aggravated afterward by the Tar Heels’ play in the running game on both offense and defense.
“We knew they would stack up against the run and they did a nice job against the run,” Fedora said. “I’m not sure how efficient we were running the ball throughout the game. We knew we would get some big plays with the matchups against our receivers and their secondary.
“I knew we had a big win like this it in us, I didn’t know when it was coming. But we did not play our best game today, we can still be a much better football team. Everyone in that locker room understands that. We have to get some things corrected and hopefully be better next week.”
Nonetheless, the Tar Heels have now won 23 of their last 26 games against Duke and have pounded the Blue Devils by 25 and 35 points the last two years.“It feels great,” Williams said. “I just don’t like Duke. My cousin plays for them and it was especially important to get this win. The stats sound good, but the main thing was getting a win on our home field in the Tar Pit and having fun with the boys. The main thing was to keep putting our foot on the gas and never letting up.”