The Tar Heels have won about 70 percent of their games against the Wolfpack over the years for a 60-27-6 all-time record. And in the past decade, the percentage is virtually the same.
However, except for a 52-20 rout of the Pack in 1996, all of Carolina's wins have been decided by two touchdowns or less, while State has outscored UNC, 128-88 in the new millennium.
But in the past ten years, the Tar Heels won the first six and then sandwiched its seventh between the Wolfpack's three wins in the final four games – perhaps not coincidentally – when Chuck Amato took over for Mike O'Cain, who was 0-7 lifetime against UNC.
As would be expected, Mack Brown's four wins are the most in this designated era, Amato's three ranks second, Carl Torbush was 2-1 versus the Pack, and John Bunting won his first meeting with Amato, but has dropped the last two.
Oct. 29, 1994
out of reach
Ahead 14-3 late in the first half, NCSU senior Eddie Goines had the ball stripped after hauling in a 54-yard punt from Mike Thomas, and UNC's Jonathan Linton recovered at the State 7.
After a penalty, Leon Johnson scored on an 11-yard swing pass and the Heels were in total control. Tripp Pignetti added a 35-yard field goal and Marcus Wall scored from five yards out on a flanker reverse in the third quarter as Carolina cruised 28 points ahead.
Carolina fell to Clemson at home the following week, before a 50-0 blowout of Wake Forest and a win over Duke. However, the Heels defense could not hold a fourth quarter lead with Priest Holmes running the ball, and lost 35-31 to Texas in the Sun Bowl.
The Pack's loss to the Tar Heels did minimal damage to its season however, as State (9-3, 6-2 ACC) finished second in the conference and ranked 16th nationally. A 28-24 Peach Bowl win over Mississippi State was a perfect ending to O'Cain's best year in Raleigh.
Nov. 24, 1995
Hail Mary before the half
On a raw, rainy day after Thanksgiving, it did appear that UNC's Fuzzy Lee had interfered with Mark Thomas in the end zone on a two-point conversion try with seven seconds left. But there were no flags thrown, and the Tar Heels escaped Raleigh leaving Wolfpack fans howling over the controversy.
With quarterback Mike Thomas passing for 185 yards and two touchdowns and Leon Johnson rushing for 139, the Tar Heels generated 402 yards of total offense. But it was Thomas' Hail Mary on the final play of the first half that gave UNC momentum going into the locker room ahead, 20-14. With time running out and everyone expecting the kneel-down play, Thomas launched a prayer that was answered when Darrin Ashford caught a deflected pass in the end zone.
The Pack fought back, amassing 400 yards against the nation's fourth-ranked defense. Harvey completed 17 of 39 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback effort.
Of course, this game was played before the overtime rule came into play, so a tie was the best the Pack could hope for from the two-point conversion pass instead of its final 3-8 overall and 2-6 league finish.
Carolina capped a 7-5 season, 4-4 in conference, with a 20-10 win over Arkansas in the Carquest Bowl.
Nov. 2, 1996
a TD on the first play
Kivuusama Mays recovered a fumble by State's Jamie Barnette in the end zone as the Tar Heels sprinted out to a 19-0 halftime lead.
Keldorf, the 1996 ACC Player of the Year, threw two scoring passes to Octavus Barnes and one to fullback Chris Watson. Those gave him 20 on the season, enough to surpass the previous UNC single-season record of 18, set in 1979 by Matt Kupec.
Johnson, who finished with 90 yards on 22 carries, scored on runs of 1, 1 and 2 yards, as well as on a 39-yard punt return.
Carolina, which rang up 501 yards and scored via its offense, defense and special teams, enjoyed its most points scored in the 102-year history of the rivalry, topping the mark of 44 set the year before.
State, which suffered through its second straight bowl-less campaign with a 3-8 overall record, 3-5 ACC, saw its season end in Charlotte with a humiliating 50-29 defeat to East Carolina.
The Tar Heels (10-2, 5-2) went on to win the first of their two consecutive Gator Bowl championships with a 20-13 win over West Virginia.
Oct. 18, 1997
Barnes after a TD
Brian Schmitz's first career field goal was a pretty good one – a 51-yarder that put UNC up for good in the third quarter, 10-7.
Tailback Jonathan Linton rushed for a career-high 177 yards on 34 carries, the best single-game performance by a Tar Heel since Natrone Means had battered Maryland for 246 yards in 1992.
As things got wetter and cooler, UNC pulled away, as the Wolfpack managed just 51 yards in the second half.
Carolina's final and decisive touchdown, a two-yard scoring run by Linton, was set up by a 54-yard flea flicker play from Oscar Davenport to Octavus Barnes. The completion marked Davenport's 144th pass attempt without an interception - a school record which stands today, although he would extend the streak to 154 attempts before his collegiate career was over.
Brown's last team was his best, but he would leave for Texas before the 11-1 Tar Heels went on to thrash Virginia Tech 42-3 in the Gator Bowl with former defensive coordinator and new head coach Carl Torbush working from the press box. UNC's only blemish on the season was a 20-3 home loss to Florida State.
The 6-5 Wolfpack, 3-5 ACC, did not go bowling. However it did win its final three games, which included a measure of revenge with a 37-24 win over ECU in Raleigh to close out the season.
UNC, 37-34 OT
Nov. 28, 1998
a college football game
in state history
The Tar Heels (6-5, 5-3 ACC) went up 17-3 when Davenport found wide receiver L.C. Stevens for a 49-yard touchdown. State (7-4, 5-3) would trail 24-3 by halftime and 31-10 with less than 15 minutes to go in the game.
In fact, Carolina led by 21 points on two separate occasions, only to watch the Cardiac Pack rally to tie the score late and force overtime. Daniel Deskevich's 28-yard field goal on the first possession of the extra period gave the Pack its first and only lead of the game, 34-31.
But on UNC's third play, Davenport found Na Brown for a 14-yard touchdown pass that sealed the Carolina victory. ‘OD' finished with 213 yards, while Torry Holt had 180 yards receiving and returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown.
Linebacker Brandon Spoon's game high 11 tackles led a Tar Heels' defense that forced five State turnovers.
The Tar Heels (7-5, 5-3 ACC) won their fourth-straight bowl game with a 20-13 victory over San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Wolfpack, with an identical win-loss record as UNC, fell 46-23 to Miami in the Micron PC Bowl.
Nov. 11, 1999
tackle at the goal line
These were no longer the best of times for UNC football, as this was a one-win team that earlier in the season lost to Division I-AA Furman 28-0, lost to Houston and failed to score a touchdown against Wake Forest.
Ronald Curry was out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, backup quarterback Luke Huard was down with a bruised rotator cuff, and converted safety Antwon Black had mononucleosis. Enter converted running back Domonique Williams, whose first quarter touchdown pass to Deon Dyer was likely the key play of the game, and just enough for Carolina to eek out another win over the heavily-favored Wolfpack. It was UNC's first touchdown in 10 quarters, and staked the Tar Heels to a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Yet while the UNC defense looked strong for most of the game, it appeared ready to fold near the end. With time running out on the clock, Wolfpack quarterback Jamie Barnette rolled out and found Chris Coleman across the middle. However, Errol Hood grabbed Coleman from behind and David Bomar came up to help keep him from crossing the goal line for what would have been the game-winning score.
Neither Carolina (3-8, 2-6 ACC), nor State (6-6, 3-5) would go to a bowl that season. And in a strange "if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em" turn of events, O'Cain would switch sides and become UNC's offensive coordinator the following year.
N.C. State, 38-20
Oct. 14, 2000
Robinson (left) and
had two 4th quarter TDs
For the eighth straight time, O'Cain was on the losing side in the series, but this time he saw it unfold under a Carolina Blue baseball cap.
The new-look Wolfpack (5-1, 2-1 ACC) came out on top after a tight fourth-quarter, primarily behind a 94-yard rushing performance by Cotra Jackson, who had been brought in after starting tailback Ray Robinson went down with an injury.
Carolina (3-3, 1-3 ACC) had fought its way back from a 24-7 deficit, and even had a chance to tie the score in the third quarter. But after a six-yard scoring run by Curry, and despite a 1st and goal at the State 4 (which ended in a Jeff Reed field goal), UNC could get no closer than 24-20.
With Robinson out, Jackson scored twice in the fourth quarter and the Tar Heels never recovered.
After the game had ended, the Wolfpack players remained at midfield trampling the interlocking "NC" logo, while symbolically burying seven years of frustration losing to the Tar Heels.
The 8-4 Pack, which finished 4-4 in the ACC, returned to the Micron PC Bowl, and emerged victorious this time with a 38-30 win over Minnesota. Carolina would win its final three to finish 6-5, but the 3-5 ACC finish wasn't enough to save Torbush's job.
Sept. 29, 2001
led the way in '01
At this juncture of the season, Carolina (1-3, 1-1 ACC) didn't realize its defense had two Top 10 NFL draft picks in Julius Peppers and Ryan Sims, as well as several other future pros. The Tar Heels were coming off their 41-9 whipping of the sixth-ranked Seminoles, after having lost three straight road games to Oklahoma, Maryland and Texas.
Freshman Darian Durant was still Ronald Curry's backup, but had begun splitting time with the senior because of his more effective play. Curry, who had appeared rattled in earlier games, was 7-of-15 passing for 58 yards and an interception, and he was sacked three times. Durant also gave up a pick, but went 10-of-14 for 128 yards and connected with Kory Bailey on two touchdown passes. Durant didn't get sacked and he ran nine times for 46 yards.
It was the ACC opener for State (2-0), which would roll up 361 yards of total offense. Yet for the first time in his career, Rivers had failed to lead the Pack to double digits in scoring. He finished 24 of 43 for 306 yards passing, without an interception, and he furiously led a late rally.
With the clock winding down and facing a 4th and 7, Rivers completed a pass over the middle to Troy Graham. But UNC's Quincy Monk and Michael Waddell stopped him and the State drive just inches shy of first-down yardage with 28 seconds showing on the clock.
The Tar Heels (8-5, 5-3 ACC) went on to win five of their last seven with a bowl victory, a 16-10 win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
State, which finished 7-5 and 4-4, also beat FSU that year, but then lost to Pittsburgh 34-19 in the Tangerine Bowl.
N.C. State, 34-17
Oct. 12, 2002
258 yds on the ground
However a Durant fumble at the UNC 4 seemed to signal a wake up call to the Pack, which would go on to score 27 consecutive points with its dominating ground attack. This time it wouldn't need Rivers' heroics to continue its best season start since 1967. State simply blew Carolina's defenders off the ball and ran for 167 of its 258 rushing yards in the second half.
T.A. McLendon, playing with a broken wrist, led the charge.
N.C. State (11-3, 5-3 ACC) would not stumble en route to setting a school record for most wins in a season, and stunning 11th ranked Notre Dame 28-6 on New Year's Day in the Gator Bowl.
There was much made of a parade for a Pack team that finished fourth in the conference that year. But like it or not, the Tar Heels (3-9, 1-7) had absolutely nothing to celebrate over the holidays.
N.C. State, 47-34
Sept. 27, 2003
After an incredible recovery by North Carolina to trim a 17-point deficit to just a field goal at halftime, N.C. State (3-2, 1-1 ACC) stormed out of the locker room and struck back quickly. Rivers, who later in the game would surpass Georgia Tech's Joe Hamilton's ACC career total offense record, hit Jerricho Cotchery on an 80-yard fly pattern, as the Wolfpack rolled from then on.
Rivers feasted on the porous Tar Heels' defense all day long, finishing with 423 yards on 23-of-30 passing. He fell just 10 yards short of topping his single-game career high he set at Wake Forest earlier this year. He also ran for 44 yards and two touchdowns.
Cotchery was Rivers' favorite of eight different receiving options, catching nine passes for 217 yards.
Despite ringing up 550 yards of total offense and setting a school record with 469 passing yards, North Carolina (0-4, 0-2 ACC) was off to its worst start since losing six games to begin the 1988 season.
Carolina managed a late 74-yard touchdown pass from Matt Baker to Adarius Bowman.
Ranked as high as 14th at one point early in the season, the 8-5 Wolfpack, 4-4 ACC, never fully recovered from a 38-24 shocking loss at Wake Forest or a agonizingly close triple overtime loss at third-ranked Ohio State. The Pack would also lose in two overtimes at Florida State later in the year.
However State did get the opportunity to take out its frustrations in a 56-26 dismantling of Kansas in the Tangerine Bowl.
The Tar Heels finished 2-10, with a lone win over Wake Forest accounting for their only home and conference victory of the season.