NC State coach Tom O'Brien threw both of his hands in the air in celebration. He even added a fist pump and a smile.
That's more emotion than O'Brien typically shows in an entire season, and it was a longtime coming.
After a disastrous, injury-laden season that was made even worse this past week by the news that NC State offensive coordinator Dana Bible was diagnosed with leukemia, the Wolfpack finally had something to celebrate with their 28-27 win over rival North Carolina. For the third straight year, the Pack got the upper hand in this rivalry. UNC lost its chance at a better bowl game, but NC State gained pride, bragging rights and a sense of accomplishment in its final game of the regular season.
The Tar Heels hurt themselves with 10 penalties for 121 yards and two turnovers. NC State got what it needed from its defense -- including an interception on UNC's final play of the game -- and a standout performance by quarterback Russell Wilson. He finished with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He completed 20 of 27 passes.
Let the debate continue as to which is the best team in the state, for the third straight year, NC State was the better team in this rivalry.