Dec 28, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; A North Carolina Tar Heels helmet lays on the field prior to the start of the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
10. 1995 Carquest Bowl
By 1995 Mack Brown had his system firmly in place and was attempting to fence off the state for recruiting purposes. He also had two running backs of talent in Curtis Johnson and Leon Johnson. This was also the last year in the career of quarterback Mike Thomas.
The season had been up and down and the Tar Heels had fought their way to a 6-5 record. As a sign of the times, they might not even have gone to a bowl just a few years earlier. However the Carquest Bowl was one of several new bowls that sprang up in the 80s and 90s to extend the number of teams going to bowls and find ways to make more money.
The Heels opponent was the Arkansas Razorbacks of SEC. The Razorbacks at that time were still coached by former Clemson National Champion Coach Danny Ford. Arkansas had gone 8-3 on the year and lost to Florida in the SEC Championship.
The game started with the teams trading touchdowns in the first quarter, but no further scoring occurred until after halftime. It was in the second half that the Tar Heels put together a team effort. The defense held Arkansas to three points, while Leon Johnson lit the Razorbacks afire. Johnson took an option pitch to the house to make the score 14-10. The Tar Heels held on from there to claim the victory 20-10.
The Carquest Bowl set up the Tar Heels for a bowl winning streak of five games, the best in school history. The Tar Heels would lose three games over the next two years and Brown would ride his success to Texas. Johnson would take his 195 yard performance to the pros a little more than a year later.
The organizers of the Carquest Bowl would later move the game to Orlando and become the Russell Athletic Bowl where the Heels will face Baylor on December 29.