NC State jumped back into the national rankings this week after improving to 4-1 after beating Duke 31-20 last weekend, landing at #23 in the AP Poll.
The Wolfpack will head to Chapel Hill to face the #14 Tar Heels on Saturday, marking only the 3rd time in the storied history of the rivalry when both teams were ranked. That’s pretty phenomenal, considering the series dates back to 1894.
UNC has been victorious in the first two ranked rivalry bouts.
In 1993, #18 UNC defeated #19 NC State 35-14, and in 1979, the #19 Tar Heels defeated #15 Wolfpack 35-21.
Both of these games were in Raleigh.
In 1979, UNC got out to a 28-7 lead, but Quarterback Scott Smith rallied the Pack back before a record breaking crowd in Carter-Finley Stadium. NC State scored 14 unanswered points, and were driving down the field to tie the game up, when Lawrence Taylor swatted the ball out of Smith’s hands, and the ruling on field was a fumble. The crowd was in an uproar, believing it to be a forward pass, but there was no instant replay back then to overturn it. The Tar Heels would then turn the turnover into 7 more points, putting the game away.
In 1993, Mack Brown picked up his first win over the Wolfpack, after losing his first 2 as head coach at UNC. This was the first year of the Mike O’Cain era, with legendary Dick Sheridan stepping down prior to the season due to health reasons. The game wasn’t close, with UNC taking care of business 35-14, but the game will always be remembered for the brawl that ensued before halftime, and even spilled over after the game ended. Ricky Bell pushed Tar Heel Quarterback Jason Stanicek on a scramble to the sidelines over his own bench. The result was a brawl that included swinging helmets. The most memorable moment of the game came after time expired, when UNC Assistant Coach Donnie Thompson tackled Wolfpack assistant Ted Cain.
Here’s to the third time being the charm for the Wolfpack, with numbers beside both of their names.