The No. 12 Hurricanes look to earn their first victory in four tries in Chapel Hill on Saturday when it takes on North Carolina.
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"We've got to just keep winning games," center A.J. Trump said. "If we lose a game anywhere along the line, we're not where we want to be. We initially had the goal for the national championship; that's probably not in the cards now. But a nice BCS game is still a possibility if we just win out."
Winning out is certainly possible for a
"We used up all our bye weeks at the beginning of the year so we just have to fight it through," quarterback Jacory Harris said. "
The Hurricanes are 0-3 all-time in Chapel Hill, and coach Randy Shannon has lost both previous matchups against North Carolina (6-3, 2-3) and coach Butch Davis, who is 2-0 against the program he guided from 1995-2000.
"Shorter practices, that played a big role," said Cooper, who claimed he hasn't been healthy most of the season. "Coach Shannon is real smart and we just go with him. It went well. We had one day of banging and we worked more on technique. We came out fresh."
The big day on the ground took some pressure off Harris, who completed 18 of 31 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Harris threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter the week before to rally
The Hurricanes turned in their best defensive effort of the season, holding
"The defensive line has been working on the pass rush side of it and they did a good job of harassing the quarterback,"
North Carolina features an outstanding defense that ranks fifth in the nation, allowing an ACC-low 249.4 yards per game, and limited Duke to 125 yards - a season low for Tar Heels opponents - in a 19-6 victory last Saturday.
"I thought our defense took the right approach, that we didn't allow any kind of running game to get generated to start the ballgame," Davis said. "You don't want to have to start cheating the box and devoting a whole lot of extra people to stopping the run."
The Tar Heels have averaged 193.8 yards on the ground in winning three of four, including 192 last weekend. Ryan Houston ran for career highs of 37 carries and 164 yards after starter Shaun Draughn was lost for the season with a shoulder injury suffered on the first offensive play.
Before the Duke game, Houston - a junior - had never had more than 18 carries or 74 yards rushing.
Posted: 11/10/09 1:34PM ET