If you are going to the North Carolina-South Carolina football game Thursday night in Charlotte, you probably are enough of a fan to know that there have been several college football games played before at Bank of America Stadium.
But would you believe there have been 30 of them? I wouldn’t have guessed that many, but Frank Kay of Raycom Sports provided the proof in a recent email in response to my question. The UNC-USC battle will be No. 31 in Charlotte since the stadium opened, giving Charlotte a Baskin-Robbins worth of college football flavor. The ultimate game, of course, could become reality if Charlotte could host the national championship game – the city has bid for the 2019 and 2020 contests.
A few of the previous 30 games at Bank of America Stadium have been duds, of course. But here are a half-dozen I believe were significant, entertaining or both. In chronological order, with attendance in parentheses:
1. Nov. 30, 1996
East Carolina 50, N.C. State 29 (66,347): The first college game ever at what was then known as Ericsson Stadium, this featured an East Carolina back named Scott Harley who rushed for an astounding 351 yards on 42 carries. The teams obviously weren’t fond of each other. East Carolina coach Steve Logan, ahead by 19 midway through the fourth quarter, went for two. The crowd at the time was the largest ever to see a college football game in the state of North Carolina.
2. Nov. 13, 1999
UNC 10, N.C. State 6 (41,159): This Tar Heel win – salvaged when N.C. State was stopped a yard short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the UNC 4 in the final two minutes – saved head coach Carl Torbush’s job (temporarily). It also had a lot to do with N.C. State coach Mike O’Cain getting fired – he was 0-7 vs. the Tar Heels.
3. Dec. 28, 2002 (Continental Tire Bowl)
Virginia 48, West Virginia 22 (73,535): The first bowl game in Charlotte, this 2002 contest set a standard of attendance excellence and helped what is now known as the Belk Bowl establish itself quickly. Virginia, led by future NFL quarterback Matt Schaub, dominated on the field.
4. Dec. 30, 2004 (Continental Tire Bowl)
Boston College 37, UNC 24 (70,412): This one was memorable for one of the best fake field goals you will ever see. With Boston College clinging to a 27-24 lead early in the fourth quarter, coach Tom O’Brien – yes, that Tom O’Brien – called for a fake field goal.
Boston College’s primary quarterback had just broken his leg on the previous third-down play. Backup quarterback Matt Ryan (yes, the future Atlanta quarterback was just a backup at the time) handed off to kicker Ryan Ohliger on the fake kick, and the 5-foot-9 freshman bolted 21 yards for the touchdown. A packed stadium brimming with UNC fans suddenly went silent.
5. Dec. 4, 2010 (ACC Championship)
Virginia Tech 44, Florida State 33 (72,379): This was the first ACC title game in Charlotte, and in many respects it remains my favorite college football game played in the Queen City. It showed how well the city can band together to host a game of this magnitude. Organizers had bought two huge tarps to cover seats – just in case tickets didn’t sell well – but didn’t need to use them.
Even though it sleeted for much of the day, most people showed up. Plus, the Panthers were terrible that season – they went 2-14 during The Lost Year Of Jimmy Clausen. They were awful to watch.
This game, on the other hand, had 10 total TDs. There were more touchdowns scored in that one night than the Panthers scored in the first nine games of their 2010 season.
6. Dec. 6, 2014 (ACC Championship)
Florida State 37, Georgia Tech 35 (64,808): The most recent ACC title game was a nice contrast in styles, with Georgia Tech running the ball up and down the field for 331 yards and FSU throwing it with Jameis Winston (309 yards passing).