North Carolina prevailed in a rout of 55-13 over Temple Friday, December 27th in the Military Bowl. The Tar Heels showed up in full force, as the offense amassed 534 total yards. The defense did their part too, as they only gave up 13 points, garnered 9 tackles for a loss, and snagged two interceptions. Temple, on the other hand, was giving the game their all but just couldn’t find a way to move the ball. The game shows off a strong future for this young squad of Heels.
Over the two seasons before this year, UNC had only won five games. It was a dark time for Heels football, but now the program looks like it is ticking up at a great pace. Although UNC’s final record was only 7-6 this year, this crushing victory in the Military Bowl shows that something great could be in the cards down the line. And even with such an impressive margin of victory in this game, it is important to remember that this may not be the most impressive thing the ACC team has done this year. On September 28th, UNC nearly shocked the world as they came so close to beating the now #3 team in the nation, the Clemson Tigers. The Heels lost 21-20 that day, but showed that UNC football was back on the map.
Analyzing UNC’s season even deeper, they never once lost a game by more than 7 points this year, and many of their losses were decided by even less than that. On the flip side, their win margin was not usually substantial, but they did a very solid job playing in what is most likely the fifth most competitive conference in the NCAA.
The MVP of the game, who was awarded this honor for having a lights-out game, showed up and simply did what he had been doing all year long. Freshman Quarterback for the Heels, Sam Howell, has had an outstanding first season. This year he has managed to accumulate 3,347 yards, 35 passing TD’s, 7 interceptions, all with a completion percentage of over 60%. Howell has been a standout for freshman quarterbacks in the NCAA this year, and has likely pieced together the best season for any freshman quarterback this year.
With freshman stats like this, perhaps Howell starts to turn his attention to the next level. Both Mitchell Trubisky and T.J. Yates have entered the NFL after their careers on Chapel Hill this decade. With Howell putting up stats and performances like he has done this entire year, we could see him making an impact in either the NCAA or the NFL in the future.