First things first: North Carolina’s chances of winning this game were very slim. They’d have a minute to go 50 yards, score a touchdown, and get the two-point conversion—and that would just be to tie. But that an officiating blunder stripped them of the opportunity for a stunning comeback is, given that this is the ACC, not all that surprising.
This is the same conference that brought you Miami’s undeserved kick return TD, after all. But given the conference is one of ESPN’s big-money partners, we’re surprised (and encouraged!) that Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler were unequivocal in calling out the mistake, which here is a phantom offside call on UNC’s onside kick attempt. The Tar Heels were deprived a chance at upsetting the top-ranked team in the country; we were deprived the chance of watching that happen.
Update (10:22 a.m.): The ACC is sticking to their guns:
“The officials saw a member of the kicking team break the plane before the ball was kicked.”