North Carolina has lost five straight games to N.C. State.
Larry Fedora, in his first year as head coach of the Tar Heels, is keenly aware of this fact.
Fedora said that “since my first handshake when I took the job" he has known the importance of North Carolina's losing streak to its in-state rival, and the urgency to end it. With the Wolfpack coming to Chapel Hill on Saturday, Fedora made sure his players remembered the way the last handful of meetings have gone.
According to the News & Observer, "(UNC players) went into their locker room and found N.C. State paraphernalia everywhere. There were red and white streamers and balloons. Pictures of N.C. State players celebrating after a victory. Signs with a hand on them that said, 'Five in a row.' There were signs with N.C. State’s logo and the words, 'Our State,' plastered on them."
Fedora later downplayed the decorations. "I don't know if that's a big deal or not," he said. "We do things to motivate our players, I'm sure just like everybody else does."
“I took some of the stuff and put it up in my locker, just as a reminder that they have beat us five consecutive times,” said senior offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper. “I don’t want to end my senior season with that on my record.”
North Carolina competes this season under NCAA sanctions, meaning the 5-3 Tar Heels (2-2 in the ACC) are ineligible for the ACC Championship and will not play in a bowl game. With only four games left in the season, a date with the Wolfpack is the biggest game left on the Tar Heels' schedule.
Fedora's team can play the role of spoiler. At 2-1 in the ACC, N.C. State sits in the thick of Atlantic Division standings as one of four teams with one conference loss.
After popping balloons in the locker room, Fedora's team hopes to pop a losing streak on the field this Saturday.