CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –– They folded.
There’s nothing scarier than reliving the same tune each year, yet North Carolina has seemed to do that with ease after dropping their second game in a row, in a fashion too familiar to the string of losses they suffered last year.
While it’s premature for me to expect UNC to show up and take care of business this week and beyond, their inability to grab wins these past two games might be evidence of their rapid fall from glory and doomed trajectory for the remainder of the season.
In 2022, North Carolina was 9-1 – fresh off winning the Coastal Championship and ready to close out the season with four more games on the schedule. But instead of ending on a high, they fell off and lost each of those games. The string of those losses began with a home loss to Georgia Tech on Nov. 19 2022.
“They were the start to the crash of our season last year, so it’s super important that we win,” said UNC linebacker Cedric Gray earlier last week in reference to the Tar Heels game against Georgia Tech.
This past Saturday in Atlanta, the Tar Heels faced the Yellowjackets looking for a bounce back victory after falling to Virginia a week prior. But a catastrophic performance by UNC’s defense prevented this from happening and led the team to their second straight ACC loss.
North Carolina lost the game 46-42, as the wheels spiraled off the defensive end. The unit gave up 635 yards in the loss.
Just two weeks ago North Carolina sat at No.10 in the country, riding high as one of the few programs to be unbeaten going into week 8. They played one of their most complete games against Syracuse on Oct. 7 and put a beatdown on Miami to earn their third conference win. But their failure to execute, yet again, has now cost them a spot in the AP Top 25 Poll for this week.
Missed assignments was the main issue, as mistakes gave way to opportunity for the Georgia Tech offense from the second quarter all the way into the fourth.
They blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, allowing Georgia Tech’s quick-tempo offense to score back-to-back touchdowns in the final ten minutes. The unit also allowed 250 yards in the fourth quarter alone, as the Yellow Jackets scored 22 points to snap the deficit and seal the win. Before that, theTar Heels had only given up 102 rushing yards through three quarters.
This loss was a hard one to swallow, especially given the Tar Heels rise in national polling, but it’s impossible to deny the facts. This defense is not fighting with the same grit and tenacity that got them to a 6-0 start to the season. They couldn’t get it done when it mattered and now have a two-game home slate starting with Campbell and three challenging conference games in Duke, Clemson and NC State.
As far as the ACC championship game, North Carolina has dropped to fourth in conference rankings behind FSU, Louisville and Virginia Tech. It’s not looking too good as they face the danger of missing the title game.
Over the course of the next couple days, North Carolina’s defense must quell the brewing doubts about their capabilities and show up in these final four games. Their performance against Campbell this Saturday will prove a good measuring stick of their success story and their postseason hopes, but if these two losses have proved anything, it’s that nothing is a given in college football.