On Saturday, Duke and North Carolina play. This excerpt is from an article about how intense the schools' football rivalry used to be.
Duke and North Carolina started playing each other in 1888, when Duke was known as Trinity College. They have put on some of the great shows in college football history, but the rivalry started slowly. Trinity won four of the first five, and one tale has it that Trinity simply had a superior knowledge of the rules and tactics of the relatively new game.
Trinity's administration then outlawed football for 20 years (the Methodist Church having ruled it "a source of evil") and, when they came back, Carolina seemed to have figured it out, winning six straight. Then an odd thing happened: Wallace Wade, who had won three national championships as Alabama's coach, decided to move to Durham.
Wade would go 110-36-7 at Duke, and he pretty much owned Carolina until Charlie Justice and his teammates got to town. (Duke never beat Justice.)
The game of the 1930s was the 1935 matchup at Duke. All that the heavily favored, unbeaten and No. 5-ranked Tar Heels needed to go to the Rose Bowl was to beat the Blue Devils. Duke entered the game 6-2. A crowd of 47,000, the largest ever to watch a football game in the South at the time, saw Duke shut out the Heels 25-0 in a drizzling rain.
Duke won six Southern Conference titles to Carolina's two during the Wade years and won the series 8-7-2. And Wade was not necessarily the most significant coach in the rivalry era. Bill Murray, coach at Duke from 1951 to '65, was 11-5 against the Heels and won or tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship six times; Carolina had a single ACC title before 1971.
The thrills of the late 1940s, of course, have always obscured those numbers in Chapel Hill.
Justice accounted for 30 of the Heels' 43 points in the 1946 and '47 games, lifting the team from a 7-7 mid-fourth-quarter tie in the former and scoring as a runner, passer and receiver in the latter.
"You didn't have to worry about which way to block," said Ralph Strayhorn, a guard who served as co-captain in 1946. "If you blocked one way, he went the other."
The Heels' 20-0 win the next year featured the much-talked-about 43-yard touchdown in which "Choo Choo," at first trapped behind scrimmage, was thought to have run maybe 100 yards' worth of zigs and zags. Legend has it that UNC tackle Ted Hazelwood knocked down a Duke player as Justice danced by and then denied his cries for release.
"Heck no," Hazelwood said, "not with that Justice. You never know when he might be coming this way again."
In the last game of the Justice era, the Heels walked off Duke's field with a 21-20 win, only to be called back when the officials determined there was still time for Duke's Mike Souchak to attempt a field goal.
"I was lucky enough to get the jump on the blockers," Art Weiner said. "He kicked me so hard on the backside that I just fell and sat on the ball."
The setting for the 1959 game could not have been more poignant. The Heels were in a dismal stretch in which Duke had won eight of nine. The Tar Heels were ranked third in the national preseason poll as expectations were higher than at any time since the Justice years.
Just weeks before the start of the season, coach Jim Tatum died of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Offensive coordinator Jim Hickey took over, and after five losses in eight games some students hanged him in effigy.
Duke was suffering a mediocre season, too, and the faithful had to pin it all on the finale in Durham. A sign in Carolina's parade read, "If you think we're beat, wait till you see Dook." And it was prophetic.
The Heels scored the first three times they got the ball on that Thanksgiving Day. It was 27-0 at halftime. Don Klochak went 93 yards, untouched, to start the second half.
"I remember it like it was yesterday afternoon," said Raleigh lawyer Wade Smith, class of '60, who was a second-team All-ACC halfback. "We got on the bus to go to Duke. It was absolutely quiet. It was ominous. We were poised and ready to go.
"We ran out on the field and nearly killed them."
The headline in the Daily Tar Heel measured five inches high: 50-0.
The 1969 game is remembered for one of the most famous plays in ACC history. In the third quarter Duke quarterback Leo Hart was tackled on an option run near the sideline. He got up slowly, as if he were shaken up. He bent down to tie his shoe. The defense huddled, and Duke receiver Marcel Courtillet picked up the ball and tossed it to receiver Wes Chesson, who ran down the sideline all alone for a 53-yard touchdown that sealed a 17-13 win.
And on Nov. 21, 1970, as the fire in the great old rivalry began to flicker, Don McCauley ran for 279 yards and five touchdowns to lead Carolina to a 59-34 win at home. McCauley broke O.J. Simpson's single-season NCAA rushing record in the process, and his 21st TD that season is still a UNC record.
Clifton Barnes III is a writer, editor and Web developer in Cary. He was sports editor of The Daily Tar Heel in 1981-82.