Mike: Saturday's Importance

While there is no doubt that the last several days have given a much needed shot of enthusiasm to Tar Heels everywhere, we must remember that there is still unfinished business awaiting the Carolina football team in Durham this Saturday. Moreover, the task before the Heels is an important one for the team and fans as well.

The team will not clinch a bowl game or national ranking with a win, but there is plenty of incentive to bring home a victory from Wallace Wade Stadium:

* Sam Aiken needs only 98 yards to set the single season UNC receiving mark. Sam has put together All-ACC numbers this season, and has served as a model of what kind of effort and hard work should be brought to the field everyday.

* The Victory Bell, having been brought home by Carolina each of the last 12 seasons, is definitely not in need of being repainted a terrible shade of dark blue.

* Duke is working on yet another season of going winless in the ACC, it would be a shame to spoil all the work they have put into that record.

* After showing some positive signs in Tallahassee last weekend, the Heels have a chance to close the season out on a positive note going into the winter and preparing for spring drills.

* Spurrier. Scoreboard. Snapshot. Enough said.

Despite these reasons, it would still be easy for fans to not invest the same amount of energy in cheering the Heels on – either in person or far away. The basketball team has served notice that they are back, and there is a natural temptation is to say that Carolina is a basketball school again, and that the football team is only a pleasant diversion.

Doing that would be a disservice to the young men who have had a tough year, but showed up last weekend playing for pride and acquitting themselves nicely in very hostile territory. This year was the first bumpy step on the road back to football success, and UNC fans must rise once more in support as the season is closed out. It is merely a down payment on the great Saturdays that are to come.

There will be plenty of time to focus on basketball, and it looks as though we will have lots to talk about with the new and exciting team gracing the floor of the Smith Center. On Saturday though, the Tar Heels face a school whose fans have callously orphaned their football team whenever the scent of basketball is present. UNC fans must show them all that when the Heels take the field, they're behind them all the way – 12-0, or 2-9.

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