With the State-UNC rivalry renewing itself this weekend, let’s take a look back at one of the more fun recent contests between the two. Fun if you like defense and interceptions and hilarious box scores, that is. Of course, I’m talking about the 2011 game that State won 13-0.
NC State came into the game at 4-4 with three of its wins against group-of-five or FCS opponents. It was 1-3 in the ACC and needed 3 wins in its final 4 games, a stretch that included number three Clemson, to sneak into a bowl. State basically had to win this game if it wanted to play in the postseason.
It did not get off to a good start. Mike Glennon immediately threw an interception, and UNC took two plays to move the ball into NC State territory. It would end up being the most effective offensive sequence of the afternoon for the Tar Heels.
Tom O’Brien made a critical early adjustment to his defense, swapping out his players for the ‘85 Bears. It’s unclear why this wasn’t done in later games, but it certainly was effective that Saturday. After having a 1st and 10 at the NC State 38 yard line, UNC’s first drive would end with a punt from its own 37 on 4th down and 35. There were no penalties that contributed to this down and distance.
UNC would finish the first half with 17 yards of offense, 23 of which came on the final drive just before the half. State held UNC to -6 net yards on its first 25 plays, which made up seven separate drives. It was total domination by the defense, and it wasn’t stopping at halftime.
UNC quarterback Bryn Renner would eventually leave the game late in the first half with an injury, after which he was replaced by backup Braden Hanson. Hanson proved to be a much better threat with the legs, amassing zero yards on two carries, which was far more effective than Renner’s -47.
Hanson would orchestrate three of the four UNC drives that crossed the 50-yard line that day. One ended in an interception by Darryl Cato-Bishop, one ended in an interception by David Amerson, and the other ended on a fourth-down stop. None reached the redzone. The Heels were 0/0 in the redzone on the day.
It was the most dominant defensive effort I can remember from NC State, which held UNC to 165 total offensive yards. These were UNC’s rushing stats. Look at this shit.
UNC Rushing Stats
When you have three rushing yards, it’s usually not a good day for you. When you have three rushing yards and still have more rushing yards than points, it’s definitely not a good day. Also, the symmetry here in the yards column is remarkable and almost perfect. Thanks for messing that up with your three yards, Ryan Houston, whoever the heck you are.
What’s weird about all of this is that the Pack defense was really just okay that year. It gave up 400 yards to Liberty and 500 to Cincinnati. It wasn’t terrible, but it ranked in the bottom half of the league statistically. There was nothing special about it until it saw the blue helmets.
State would go on to make and win a bowl game in the most roundabout way possible, losing to Boston College but then beating Clemson before losing to Maryland but then changing its mind and beating Maryland. None of it would have meant a thing without this defensive beatdown, and man was it fun to watch.