CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Every North Carolina football meeting since the beginning of the season began with the same message.
The mantra was Coastal Division champs – and state champs.
On Saturday, the Tar Heels took care of one of those goals with a pulsating overtime victory at Virginia Tech. That victory put the Tar Heels in the ACC title game against Clemson Dec. 5.
The Tar Heels are also looking for a sweep of in-state teams when they play at N.C. State Saturday at 3:30 pm.
UNC pounded Wake Forest 50-14 on Oct. 17 and thrashed Duke 66-31 on Nov. 7. Carolina hasn’t beaten State, Duke and Wake in the same season since 2004.
“It’s been one of our goals to be state champs,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “We had a goal of being Coastal Division champs and being state champs was always equally as important to us.”
The Tar Heels (10-1 overall, 7-0 in ACC play) can achieve both goals with a win against N.C. State (7-4, 3-4).
The Wolfpack shocked the Heels a year ago in Chapel Hill, 35-7.
“We want to get this win to cross off another one of our goals,” said senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer.
“And it means a lot to me and the other guys on the team because they came into Kenan Stadium and completely embarrassed us. We have a chip on our shoulder and we’re excited for the week,” Schoettmer said.
“It was bad,” said senior quarterback Marquise Williams. “That feeling of a rival team that came here and stomped you on your own home ground it was tough for us. That’s a good football team and we can’t take nothing for granted against those guys and they’ve been doing a tremendous job this year.”
After last year’s game, Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren talked of being a blue-collar team, and inferred that the Heels were far from the same.
“This is a blue-collar school,” Doeren said at the time. “This is a work ethic, hands-in-the-dirt school. It’s an agricultural school. It’s a textile school. It’s an engineering school. It’s founded by tough people, and that’s what this football team will be.”
When asked about those comments Monday, Carolina coach Larry Fedora would not take the bait.
Instead he stared straight ahead, an intense look upon his face.
“That’s what a rivalry’s all about,” Fedora said. “That’s whatmakes college football and sports so much fun is that you have these rivalries with the fans all around. So I think it’s pretty cool.”
The Tar Heels will ride a 10-game winning streak into the 105th meeting of this long-time series. A state championship is on the line and with it, possibly, the winner can claim the mantle of being a “blue collar” team.