North Carolina didn’t have an interception against Georgia in their opener. Nine games later, the Tar Heels still don’t have one.
The Tar Heels have played 10 games. They have two games left in the regular season. And here in mid-November, more than three months after the start of preseason practice, UNC is still seeking its first interception.
The Tar Heels’ interception-less streak might be the most bizarre statistic of the college football season. Among the 128 teams that play at the FBS level – formerly known as Division I-A – UNC is the only team in the country without an interception.
Every other team has at least three interceptions. One-hundred and eight teams – including every other team in the state, and in the ACC – has intercepted at least five passes…
That’s about as unusual as you might expect.
If you’re wondering about the history, and about the last time an FBS team went an entire season without intercepting pass, then, well – you’re not alone. Jeff Williams, an NCAA official who is in charge of the official NCAA football record book, couldn’t identify when it last happened, or if it has happened.
Williams spent part of Tuesday searching through the NCAA’s statistical archives. He looked through records for every season between 1989 and 2016, and he couldn’t find an instance of a team finishing a season without an interception. Records before 1989, he wrote an email, do not include every FBS team – only the leaders in a statistical category in that given season.
“I have to believe it has happened before,” Williams wrote, “but clearly it hasn’t happened in the last 25 (plus) years. I think it’s safe to say that every FBS team since at least 1991 has had at least one interception during the season.”
This week they’re playing a triple option team that’s attempted less than 100 passes all season, so the odds aren’t good the run will end.
The strangest part of this is that they weren’t bad at all last season with picks, and several of those players returned this year.
Just last season, they intercepted 17 passes, which ranked tied for 14th nationally. Players who accounted for more than half of those interceptions returned, including M.J. Stewart, the cornerback who led UNC with four interceptions last season…
College football. Go figure.