Freshman quarterback Sam Howell threw for three touchdowns and a season-high 401 yards as the Tar Heels gained bowl eligibility with a huge second half while thumping North Carolina State 41-10 on Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.
The visiting Tar Heels scored 28 third-quarter points to wipe out a halftime deficit.
North Carolina (6-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) will head to a bowl for the first time since 2016.
NC State (4-8, 1-7) ends the season on a six-game losing streak, with half of those setbacks by at least 30-point margins.
North Carolina won against the Wolfpack for just the second time in the last six meetings.
Howell completed 23 of 33 passes. He was intercepted once. Running back Michael Carter added 97 rushing yards on 16 carries.
NC State quarterbacks Devin Leary and teammate Bailey Hochman combined to go 13-for-30 for 157 yards and three interceptions through the air.
North Carolina's six victories dwarf the total of five from the past two seasons combined. This is the first season for the Tar Heels since the return of Mack Brown as coach.
NC State led 10-6 at halftime courtesy of a 39-yard pass play from Leary to Tabari Hines with 1:25 remaining in the second quarter.
After a three-and-out to begin the third quarter, the Tar Heels took control. They benefited from three NC State turnovers during that stretch.
North Carolina went ahead when Javonte Williams ran 26 yards for a touchdown. Howell then completed an 11-play drive with an 11-yard pass play to Williams.
The Tar Heels stretched the lead on Williams' 6-yard run. Less than two minutes later, Howell's 52-yard pass to Dyami Brown helped create a 34-10 advantage.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Howell added a 13-yard touchdown strike to Dazz Newsome.
Both teams had an 80-yard drive that resulted in a field goal in the first half.
NC State finished with 289 yards of total offense.
--Field Level Media