They were down 17-0 in the second quarter, and 27-14 to start the fourth. They were outgained by 199 yards and had 14 fewer first downs. They were held to under 100 total yards of offense in the second half. But as the Canes walked off Wake Forest’s BB&T Field, none of that mattered – they had just finished their most inspiring victory in the Randy Shannon era.
The Canes won ugly, and that is a huge step in the maturation of this young team. A great team is able to win when they’re not at their best, or even close to it. Until now, the Canes were considered a talented team, but not a great one. This win doesn’t turn them into a “great team,” but demonstrates the potential to be one.
College’s top two teams, Florida and Texas, have won ugly nearly every week. Iowa is 9-0, fourth in the BCS standings, with four victories by three points or less. The Canes weren’t at their best versus Clemson, and lost a game that jeopardized their shot at the ACC Championship.
This week, they were worse, but pulled out a win and saved their season. It doesn’t matter if you win ugly, as long as you win. With two losses, the Canes’ chance of a BCS Bowl are slim, but their win at Wake showed the heart, determination and integrity that can lead to great things in the future.
Michael Perchick is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.