North Carolina Tar Heels

Rutgers finishes successful first season in B1G with bowl victory

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The Rutgers Scarlet Knights were favored to finish dead last in the Big Ten East — including predictions by this very site — during the program’s first season in the conference.

Kyle Flood and his team exceeded expectations with an 8-5 record and a 40-21 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Quick Lane Bowl held in Detroit, Michigan.

With the bowl victory, Rutgers will finish fourth in the Big Ten East with the potential to own the fifth-best overall record in the entire conference.

The narrative was simple earlier this year: Rutgers was only added to the Big Ten Conference because of its footprint in New York City and New Jersey.

It just so happens that its a pretty good football program, too.

The victory over North Carolina also established early bragging rights for the Big Ten over the ACC.

The North Carolina Tar Heels dropped to 6-7 overall during a disappointing season. Larry Fedora‘s squad was a chic pick to be a Top 25 team this season and potentially steal an ACC Coastal Crown. Instead, the program finished third overall in one of the weakest divisions among the Power Five conferences.

After three straight seasons of diminishing win totals, Fedora will likely enter next season on the hot seat.

Rutgers was simply more physical at the point of attack than North Carolina. The Scarlet Knights ran for a whopping 340 yards. Freshman running back Josh Hicks amassed 202 yards on the ground.

North Carolina’s offense was dynamic at times, but the team’s defense simply didn’t show up and that falls directly on the head coach.

Flood, meanwhile, will enjoy the momentum his program built during its first year in the Big Ten both in recruiting and preparation for next season.

Rutgers ready to add exclamation point on season with 23-0 lead over UNC in Quick Lane Bowl

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Ten years ago, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights were just starting their ascent to respectability under Greg Schiano. Nine bowl games later, and the program is putting together arguably its strongest postseason effort in the program’s history.

Rutgers dominated the North Carolina Tar Heels 23-0 through two quarters of play in the Quick Lane Bowl.

After losing their past two bowl games, the Scarlet Knights are trying to add an exclamation point to their first season as a member of the Big Ten Conference.

Kyle Flood‘s squad built a lead by winning in the trenches and playing fundamentally sound football.

Rutgers established the run early, and the team’s pair of freshmen running backs, Robert Martin and Josh Hicks, combined for 124 yards on 20 carries.

“Any time your running game works, you’re making guys miss and breaking tackles.” Flood told ESPN as he headed to the locker room for halftime. “I think they’ve both done a good job.”

Overall, the Scarlet Knights gained 281 yards of total offense.

North Carolina, meanwhile, struggled to develop any consistency. The Tar Heels fumbled the ball twice. Once they were finally able to move the ball, kicker Thomas Moore missed a field goal attempt and another was blocked.

It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that North Carolina was finally able to move the ball successfully by stretching the field horizontally. The Tar Heels stayed away from the strength of Rutgers’ defense — its defensive line — and tested its athleticism on the edges.

If North Carolina is going to attempt a comeback, it will have to increase tempo on offense while continuing to get their play-makers in space. Rutgers simply needs to control the ball and the line of scrimmage like it did in the first half to finish the season 8-5 overall.

Georgia Tech claims ACC Coastal crown with Duke’s loss to North Carolina

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When the Duke Blue Devils hosted the North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday, it was all about the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

North Carolina’s dominant 45-20 victory over the rival Blue Devils handed Georgia Tech the ACC Coastal crown and placed Paul Johnson‘s team in the ACC Championship Game against the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles.

The school already released a statement with reaction to winning the ACC Coastal:

Meanwhile, Duke fell to 4-3 in the division, while North Carolina improved and now sports the same conference record.

The Blue Devils’ defense simply didn’t show up to play Thursday. North Carolina racked up a whopping 592 total yards. The Tar Heels were dominant at the point of attack and ran the ball for 316 of those yards. Three different players ran for at least 96 yards. Sophomore running back T.J. Logan led the way with 116 yards on 18 carries.

North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams also proved to be a difficult matchup for Duke. The dual-threat quarterback accumulated 374 total yards and four total touchdowns. Dukes’ offense only gained four more yards than Williams did.

Williams’ effort placed him in North Carolina’s record books:

The quarterback’s performance almost made everyone forget about the fact he also fumbled the ball three times.

The entire contest was plagued by mistakes. A combined six turnovers were committed. Duke was never able to recover from two early fumbles, though.

Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone also didn’t rise to the occasion. The senior signal-caller was 22-of-40 passing for 262 yards.

Once the first quarter ended, Duke was never in the contest. The Tar Heels went into Wallace Wade Stadium, ran their rivals out of the building and claimed the Victory Bell as their own.

Both teams are still bowl eligible, but the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t as bright as it once was for Duke. Instead, the Blue Devils ran smack into a Ramblin’ Wreck.

UNC dominates Duke 28-7 during first half as ACC Coastal starts to take shape

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If the Duke Blue Devils are trying to earn an Orange Bowl berth, the team has a funny way of showing it.

During a sloppy first half of play, the North Carolina Tar Heels dominated the Blue Devils. The Tar Heels built an impressive 28-7 lead, which appears to be an insurmountable lead due to the mistakes Duke committed.

Overall, the two teams combined to turn the ball over five times. North Carolina actually fumbled the ball three times, but Duke wasn’t able to take advantage. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, scored after both of Duke’s fumbles.

As soon as North Carolina built a lead, questions regarding the ACC Coastal standings started to surface.

A loss by Duke will hand the No. 18 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets an ACC Coastal crown and an appearance in the ACC Championship Game against the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles.

Duke still has the second half to redeem itself.

The Blue Devils have to start by stopping the Tar Heels offense. North Carolina amassed 391 yards of total offense through two quarters of play. If not for three fumbles by quarterback Marquise Williams, the score could be worse than it already is.

Sophomore Ryan Switzer proved to be North Carolina’s biggest threat on offense after catching two passes for 107 yards. Whereas Williams, T.J. Logan and Romar Morris combined to run for 203 yards.

Duke needs to get a strong second-half performance from senior quarterback Anthony Boone, who is 8-of-17 passing for 89 yards. If Boone and Duke’s talented corps of wide receivers can’t get the passing game going, the Blue Devils don’t have a chance in the second half and will concede the ACC Coastal to Georgia Tech.

No. 21 North Carolina saves its best for last against San Diego State

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The No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels are developing a reputation as a second half team. During the team’s 31-27 victory Saturday against the San Diego State Aztecs at Kenan Stadium, the Tar Heels outscored the Aztecs 24-13 in the second half. A week ago, North Carolina scored 35 of its 56 points against the Liberty Flames in the latter half.

As the Tar Heels move forward this could prove to be a detriment once the schedule becomes much more difficult. North Carolina has two weeks to prepare for the East Carolina Pirates and their explosive offense. The Clemson Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are the next three teams on the docket.

North Carolina can claim victories over Liberty and San Diego State in this fashion, but Larry Fedora’s squad needs to become a more well-rounded team, particularly in conference play.

Despite these concerns, North Carolina can enjoy its victory against San Diego State. The Aztecs can move the football on offense and employ one of the most aggressive defensive schemes in college football. North Carolina showed the ability to adjust after the half and eventually take over the game.

Momentum finally swung in North Carolina’s favor with 13:45 remaining in the game and the team trailing by 10 points. Quarterback Marquise Williams connected with wide receiver Mack Hollins for a 91-yard touchdown pass.  It only took one play to get the Tar Heels on a roll. Williams finished the game 20-of-29 passing for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The quarterback also gained 63 rushing yards.

The next time the Tar Heels had the ball, they drove the ball 80 yards on nine plays with a two-yard touchdown plunge from freshman running back Elijah Hood. North Carolina added a field goal the following drive for good measure. And the team needed it.

San Diego State didn’t back down from their nationally ranked opponent. The Aztecs drove the ball all the way to the Tar Heels 3-yard line with 14 seconds remaining. Senior safety Tim Scott rose to the occasion and intercepted a pass in the end zone.

North Carolina is now 2-0, but the program doesn’t want to make a habit of having to turn it on during the second half every week to win.