It had been a while – a long while – since North Carolina dominated an opponent from a Power 5 conference the way it dominated Illinois on Saturday during the Tar Heels' 48-14 victory on Saturday.
UNC's lopsided triumph came in a performance that might have been its cleanest and most complete since its 45-20 victory at Duke last season. And this one was far more one-sided than that one.
The Tar Heels produced game-changing plays in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – and led 20-7 at halftime before putting the game away in the fourth quarter.
After Illinois cut UNC's lead to 13-7 early in the second quarter the Tar Heels responded with a nine-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to take a 20-7 lead midway through the quarter. The drive, which ended with Marquise Williams' 9-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis, came as something of a statement it gave UNC control that it never relinquished.
Three who mattered
Marquise Williams: The Tar Heels' fifth-year senior quarterback passed for 203 yards and ran for 105 more, including a 41-yarder that set up his 9-yard touchdown pass to Davis. He wasn't always on target with his throws, but this was Williams' best game in a while against a Power 5 conference opponent.
Quinshad Davis: UNC's senior receiver finished with five catches for 56 yards. He set a school record with his 22nd career touchdown reception, which came on a 9-yard pass from Williams in the second quarter.
Ryan Switzer: UNC's junior receiver caught a 34-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that gave UNC a 27-7 lead, and he set a school record with 168 punt return yards. Eighty-five of those came on a touchdown return in the fourth quarter. He now has six career punt returns for touchdowns -- two short of tying the NCAA record.
Three key numbers
256 Rushing yards for UNC. The Tar Heels' goal is 200 rushing yards per game, and they had that early in the fourth quarter. Williams ran for 105 and Elijah Hood gained 129 yards on 16 carries.
116 Yards for Illinois -- on an average of 4 yards per play -- on its first five drives of the second half. The Illini gained 221 yards in the first half but had a considerably more difficult time on offense after halftime.
1 Turnovers for UNC. The Tar Heels had more turnovers than their opponents in each of their past three losses, dating to last season, but they finished with an even turnover margin on Saturday.