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Duke vs. UNC Preview

Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, November 10, 2018. 12:20 pm

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina

Television: Raycom Sports, ACC Network

Line: Duke -10.5

Last Time: Duke 27, UNC 17.  The Blue Devils kept the Victory Bell and moved to 4-0 after last season’s victory in Chapel Hill.  The game was a back and forth affair before a Bryon Fields pick six with four minutes remaining in the game put Duke up by the final margin.  The game was tied at the half and the Tar Heels held a 17-13 lead late in the game before a Shaun Wilson touchdown run put Duke ahead for good.  Brittain Brown finished with 92 rushing yards on just 10 carries to lead the offense.  Daniel Jones threw for 201 yards and 1 touchdown, but the UNC secondary forced him into a fairly inefficient day.  The Duke defense stood strong when needed, holding UNC to just 3-16 on third down and had 11 tackles for a  loss.  The win marked just the second time since 1989 that the Blue Devils had won back to back games against their rivals.

Game Preview

It’s safe to say that Saturday night’s dramatic win on the road against Miami was a bit unexpected.  Duke has struggled to find wins against Miami, defeating them only once since the Hurricanes joined the ACC.  But the Blue Devils didn’t back down and battled through torrential rains.  The defense found some of their swagger again after getting ran over by Pitt last week.

The Blue Devils have given up a lot of yards on the ground in recent weeks.  And with Joe Giles-Harris status up in the air after leaving Saturday’s game with injury expect Carolina to attack Duke on the ground early.  UNC has some talented running backs.  Duke will need a good game from the front six on defense.  If Duke has to bring in extra help from the safeties it could spell trouble for the Blue Devils.  Nathan Elliot has been prone to mistakes this year and hasn’t blown anyone away with his throws down the field, but he has gotten better.  A long interception free streak was ended against Georgia Tech on Saturday.  It will be important for Duke to keep the Tar Heels in front of them and set the edge on defense.

The annual battle for the Victory Bell appears to lean in Duke’s favor again this season, but the Blue Devils should not come into this game overconfident.  UNC is better than their 1-7 record indicates.  They have continued to find ways to lose week after week despite playing most all of their opponents close.  Their lone victory this season came against current Coastal Division frontrunners, Pitt.  So this game could play out similar to last season, when Duke came in feeling good about how they had played so far and were on paper the better team, while UNC limped into the game after a rough start to the season.  The game was close until the final minutes, with UNC leading for a good portion of the second half.  Duke can’t take their current state this season compared to their rivals lightly.  They will need to stay focused and not let last week’s upset win turn into a loss this week.  Duke has positioned themselves well to have a good season, but a loss to UNC could undo all of that goodwill.