N.C. State and North Carolina will meet for the 105th time on the football field on Saturday, and for the second straight year it will be the regular-season finale for both teams.
But it’s only the fifth time the rivals will face-off in the finale, unless, of course, you want to count the 1898 “season”, when the only game N.C. State played was against UNC. And going back to 1894, N.C. State played two games — both against the Tar Heels.
The only four times State and Carolina closed the regular season were in 2014, 2009, 1998 and 1995. Last year’s game was a 35-7 N.C. State win in Chapel Hill. The 1998 game was part of a two-year detour the rivalry took in Charlotte. The other two games were played in Raleigh.
If history is any indication, Saturday’s game will be close.
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The previous three finale meetings:
Nov. 28, 2009: N.C. State 28, UNC 27
North Carolina was 8-3 and ranked No. 23 in the country. This was coach Butch Davis’ best team in his four-year tenure at UNC. The Tar Heels had nine future NFL draft picks on defense.
But N.C. State, with a disappointing 4-7 record, had Russell Wilson. Wilson went 3-0 in his career against UNC and this was his best outing against the Heels, who finished the season No. 6 in the country in total defense. Wilson completed 20 of 27 passes for 259 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
UNC led 24-14 at the half, and was in control of the game, but Wilson heated up in the second half. He found Owen Spencer for a pair of touchdown passes, one from 56 yards and another from 38.
N.C. State’s defense supported Wilson in the second half by only allowing a field goal. UNC also helped out with 10 penalties for 122 yards.
Nov. 28, 1998: UNC 37, N.C. State 34 (OT)
The first of two games at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium and the only overtime game between the two teams.
Future NFL teammates N.C. State receiver Torry Holt and UNC cornerback Dre Bly traded big plays. Bly had an interception in the first half as the Heels, 5-5 heading in the game, built a 24-3 halftime lead.
Holt returned a punt for a touchdown and had nine catches for 180 yards as N.C. State, which had a 6-4 record, tied the score at 31 at the end of regulation.
The Heels scored the win after quarterback Oscar Davenport found Na Brown for a 14-yard touchdown after N.C. State was held to a field goal on the first possession of overtime.
Nov. 24, 1995: UNC 30, N.C. State 28
Notable for the brown, almost-white grass the game was played on at Carter-Finley Stadium and a controversial finish.
Mack Brown lost his first five games to N.C. State but won his last five. Brown dominated the rivalry, and in-state teams from 1993 to ’97, and this was as close as N.C. State could get to him during that run.
The Tar Heels came into the game with a 5-5 record and needed a win to qualify for a bowl game. N.C. State was playing out the string of a disappointing season at 3-7.
UNC running back Leon Johnson saved some of his best games for the Wolfpack and this was no exception. Johnson ran for 139 yards and a touchdown as the Heels built a 30-14 lead.
N.C. State quarterback Terry Harvey threw for a pair of touchdowns in a fourth-quarter rally but the Wolfpack could not connect on a game-tying 2-point play, a disputed finish with UNC’s Fuzzy Lee pushing N.C. State tight end Mark Thomas in the end zone but there was no flag on the play.
Last four games
2014: N.C. State 35, UNC 7
2013: UNC 27, N.C. State 19
2012: UNC 43, N.C. State 35
2011: N.C. State 13, UNC 0