Oct 17, 2015; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels fans hang out with mascot Ramses during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Kenan Memorial Stadium. North Carolina won 50-14. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
6. 1993 Peach Bowl
Given Mack Brown’s first two seasons, the trip to the Peach Bowl in 1993 must have seemed like a blessing. The players who had fought through those early years were now seniors and able to go out as winners. The 8-3 Tar Heels were ranked nineteenth in the polls coming into this game against Coach Jackie Sherrill’s Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and it looked like they might run away with his one early. However the Tar Heels were able to sort things out at halftime and attack the deficit.
The Heels were powered by running back Natrone Means but he had not been able to break through in the first half. Freshman Marcus Jones got a sack, one of many that he would get in his time with the Tar Heels.
Means got into the end zone in the third quarter as a Mike Thomas bomb set up the Heels on the one yard line. Means got the plunge to cut the lead in half. Means would finish the game with 128 yards.
At this point the true hero of the game revealed himself. Tar Heel safety Bracey Walker had a reputation for blocked punts and he brought it with him to Atlanta. The first one he blocked set up the Heels in the red zone. Unfortunately it only led to a missed field goal.
Clearly Walker had not done enough. So he blocked a second punt and returned it to the end zone for a touchdown and a tied ball game.
But now it was the Tar Heels turn to make a special teams mistake. On a routine fair catch, a Tar Heel blocker got touched by the ball and the Bulldogs fell on it. A stop by linebacker Tommy Thigpen and a sack by fellow linebacker Rick Steinbacher held the Bulldogs to a missed field goal.
So Walker took the game over again. He separated a Mississippi State receiver from the football allowing fellow defensive back Cliff Baskerville to bring an interception return. Nor was Walker done on that play, racing down the field to get a key block to see Baskerville into the end zone for what became the winning touchdown.
It was not pretty, but it was the first bowl victory under Mack Brown and a sign of things to come.