OK, Butch Davis, show us something. You've got the spotlight all to yourself.
When the second-year North Carolina coach and his football team visit Rutgers tonight for an ESPN game, there will be no political convention coverage on the other channels. This week's tropical storm is still working its way through the Gulf of Mexico.
The next season of “American Idol” hasn't begun yet. To my knowledge, Britney Spears won't be attempting to accept any music awards. The NFL is taking a night off. Late night with Roy Williams is weeks away.
The timing couldn't be more ideal for Davis to make a splash, although Rutgers has been made a slight favorite. That's based on nothing more than home-field advantage and the fact that North Carolina hasn't won outside the state for so long.
This is not the Ray Rice Rutgers of the past few years. Far from it, based on a loss 10 days ago to visiting Fresno State.
Having declined several offers from other schools over the past couple of years, Greg Schiano is still coaching (assuming Joe Paterno doesn't resign just before game time) and Mike Teel is back at quarterback, but the Scarlet Knights should be entirely beatable.
In fact, the Knights started creeping back toward reality last season, and that was with Rice around to rush for more than 2,000 yards.
Maryland beat them by 10. They lost 38-19 reasonably late in the season at Connecticut and had problems at times before subduing Ball State 52-30 in a bowl.
Granted, North Carolina was hardly overwhelming in its opening win against McNeese State in Chapel Hill on Aug.30. The Tar Heels' defense struggled and it's still not certain the running back issue has been resolved.
Be that as it may, the time is approaching when you have to think Davis will begin to gain traction.
This is not a must-win game by any means. There's no reason to believe Davis will have to confront that sort of pressure this season. Win or lose at Rutgers, the remaining schedule still sets up favorably for North Carolina, and Davis has found a way to consistently keep his team in game contention while attempting to upgrade talent.
Overall, Davis has met expectations through 13 games. He's won five.
Six of the eight defeats were by seven points or less. Losses to East Carolina and N.C. State were on the road.
But Rutgers does qualify as a perfect opportunity for the coach and his players to make a statement, which is what North Carolina fans have been waiting for so long. It's what they thought they had in last year's win against Miami in Chapel Hill. That was before Miami limped to a 5-7 finish that included three staggering losses to end the season.
If Davis could use a win at Rutgers, the ACC needs it just as much. Maybe more.
The first two weeks of play have knocked the league into a standing 8-count, complete with wobbly legs, fuzzy vision and the sound of bells ringing.
What conference coaches repeatedly insisted would be a breakout season already resembles an ordeal that could grow more embarrassing Saturday, when Virginia goes to Connecticut and Maryland hosts California.
It's going to take a lot for the ACC to offset its early miseries, but look for North Carolina to bring back something positive from New Jersey while giving Davis his first road win, 24-17.
(Raleigh) News & Observer columnist Caulton Tudor can be reached at 919-829-8946 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less