Three Things: UNC 48, Virginia Tech 34
1. Carolina is scoring points at an historic clip. The Tar Heels now have four 40+ scoring games this season, the first time since 1996—when Mack Brown’s club ended the season in the top-10—that they’ve compiled four such games in the same year. The difference is that that UNC team did it in 12 games, and this one has done it in just six.
It’s one thing to put up 66 points against an outmanned Idaho club. It’s quite another to score 48 against a Hokie defense that was chewing nails this week after being challenged by coordinator Bud Foster. The Tar Heels’ 48 points are tied for the most any Virginia Tech team had allowed since joining the ACC, as Tech gave up 48 to second-ranked LSU in 2007.
Carolina now has 264 points in six games this year. That’s more than four Tar Heels teams had scored in the entire season over the previous 10 years. At 44 points per game, Larry Fedora’s first club is on pace to obliterate the school record for average points per game—the 1993 team averaged 35.1 points per game.
“We were really excited by the way we ran the ball,” Fedora told Jones Angell after the game. “We really controlled the ball.”
2. Let’s see if we can quantify the incredible outing for Giovani Bernard, who was invisible on Carolina’s first three drives and then erupted for 262 yards on 23 carries. His yardage total is the fifth-best ever by a UNC running back, and the most for any Tar Heel since Kennard Martin went for 291 yards in 1988. Somewhat surprisingly, that’s the first time Bernard has entered his name in the top-20 of all time Tar Heel single-game efforts.
Bernard’s 262 yards (he entered the game with 213 yards in the previous five games due to a combination of blowouts and injuries) are the most ever against a Frank Beamer-coached Hokies club. Bernard averaged 11.4 yards per carry, the highest per-rush figure ever by a Tar Heel (surpassing Kelvin Bryant’s 11.1 against ECU in 1981). That Bryant game, when he handed the ball to Steve Streater in the end zone, is legendary—the record had stood for over 30 years—and this Bernard effort belongs in that category. For the season, Bernard is averaging 9.1 yards per carry.
While Bernard’s effort was incredible, don’t overlook the offensive line, which dominated the Hokies in the trenches. In addition to clearing holes for Bernard, the line also gave plenty of time to Bryn Renner, who was sacked just once.
“That offensive line has done a great job in every single game,” Bernard told the Tar Heel Sports Network after the game. “They are so well-conditioned.”
3. It’s only early October. But no matter what the Atlantic Coast Conference has ruled—and the league has said Carolina would not be recognized as the official division champion, which absolutely no one in Chapel Hill would care about—the Coastal Division is officially winnable for the Tar Heels. Fedora’s club has just two games left against an ACC opponent with a winning record. Both come on the road over the next two weekends. First, a road trip to Miami in a 2:30 start. Win that one, and the Heels would have the head-to-head tiebreaker against both the Hurricanes and Hokies, meaning the next most likely challenger might be…Duke. That just happens to be the destination the week after the trip to Coral Gables.
It wouldn’t be an official ACC title. But it sure would be a sweet reward in Fedora’s first season, when the Tar Heels aren’t eligible for a bowl.