North Carolina Tar Heels: Ranking ALL the Bowl Games

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Sep 12, 2015; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; A North Carolina Tar Heels helmet during the second half of the game against the North Carolina A&T Aggies at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels defeated North Carolina A&T Aggies 53-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

2. 1981 Gator Bowl

The 1981 Gator Bowl saw the Tar Heels take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. At the time Arkansas was a member of the Southwest Conference and not the SEC. The Tar Heels had focused their run game around Kelvin Bryant, but also had tailback Ethan Horton to hand the ball to.

The Tar Heels went 9-2 on the season and in Jacksonville to take on an 8-3 Arkansas team led by former NC State coach Lou Holtz. When Holtz had last played the Heels, Dooley had been the coach. However the ideas had not changed all that much as Dick Crum had adjusted to his talent.

Arkansas came into the game and proceeded to throw the ball. The Tar Heels stuck to their old tried and true running game. Arkansas quarterback Brad Taylor threw a long touchdown pass to get things really going after an opening North Carolina field goal. Kelvin Bryant scored in the second quarter and a Razorback field goal meant a 10-10 tie at the half.

The third quarter saw the Heels really start moving the ball on the ground. They scored twenty-one straight points on two rushing touchdowns by Horton and one rushing touchdown by quarterback Rod Elkins.

Now behind 31-10 in the fourth, Holtz took the training wheels off of Taylor and tried to find out if the quarterback could bring them back. Taylor, who threw for 307 yards on the day, engineered a scoring drive with five minutes left. Then the onside kick was recovered and Arkansas scored again with under three to play (31-25).

Back near his own end zone the Tar Heel punter Jeff Hayes gave the ball to Arkansas one final time with a minute forty-four to play. Arkansas was on the move one final time needing a touchdown to win. The Razorbacks were finally stopped when freshman Ronnie Snipes sacked Taylor for a big loss and the Razorbacks failed to convert the fourth down.

Bryant had 148 yards rushing and Horton had 144. It was a wonderful display of running mixed with a close game decided on the final series in the final seconds of the game.

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