It is well beyond time to start recognizing the good work being done this season by the North Carolina Tar Heels (8-1, 5-0 ACC). After picking up two pivotal wins against Pittsburgh last week and Duke this week, UNC is now in the pole position in the ACC Coastal with a chance to play in its first ACC Championship Game at the end of the season. That has become the reality of the situation after UNC pounded rival Duke 66-31 today on Chapel Hill.
This was a total beatdown from start to finish by UNC, a week after Duke was snakebitten by Miami (and the ACC officials). The Tar Heels clobbered Duke in the first quarter (21-3), outscored them in the second (17-7) and edged them in the third (21-14). UNC quarterback Marquise Williams completed 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 494 yards and four touchdowns before getting an early rest in the second half. Mack Hollins and Ryan Switzer each went for at least 100 yards and four different Tar Heels players caught a touchdown pass. There was simply no slowing down UNC’s offense for Duke’s defense. Duke’s offense did itself no favors either with three turnovers in the game.
UNC has now won eight straight games, with the lone loss coming in the season opener against South Carolina. In that game, Williams was picked off twice in the end zone. Since then, Williams and UNC have been on a roll. UNC has scored at least 40 points in five games in this eight-game winning streak and each win has come by a double-digit margin all but twice. IF UNC manages to get to the ACC Championship Game, they could be talented enough to give Clemson or Florida State a good scare if they keep playing this way down the stretch.
The final games of the season are none to take for granted for UNC of course. Next week Miami comes to town, which is followed by a road trip to Virginia Tech and a regular season finale at home against North cArolina State. There is still work to be done, but right now it is all in front of them, along with some serious momentum.