Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, November 7th, 3:30 PM
Records: UNC 5-3, 1-3 ACC; Duke 5-3, 3-1 ACC
College Football Armageddon?
Not really, besides I think that is Ohio St-Michigan. Still for the first time since probably 1994, this game has meaning extending beyond the Victory Bell. Duke is in control of their own destiny in the Coastal Division and with a win today and a Georgia Tech win over Wake Forest would setup a divisional title game of sorts next week in Durham. Outside of that drama, you also have both teams fighting for bowl eligibility. UNC needs two wins get qualify for a bowl and have four winnable games left. For my money, if they are going to only win two of those, I would prefer the Heels beat Duke and NC State.
This game will be about UNC defending Duke's pass offense because that is basically all Duke does. If there is a weakness on the UNC defense it seems to be the ability at times to defend the pass, especially the short underneath ones. FSU made living off passes in the flat and tossing it out beyond the ends. Quick passes serve to negate the UNC front four from pressuring the QB and given how smart David Cutcliffe appears to be, I am betting he watched the 2nd half of the FSU game backwards and forwards to develop a game plan. UNC needs to pressure Thaddeus Lewis into making mistakes and the secondary needs to step up their game to reduce the options Lewis has to throw to.
However the key to this game may lie with time of possession. Duke's defense is not anything special, certainly not better than the likes of Virginia Tech. Now that the UNC offense has some confidence, the hope is the Tar Heels can chew up copious amounts of clock with the running game. Ripping off a nine minute drive here and there would keep Lewis off the field, the defense rested and tip the game in UNC's favor. I expect to see more of what we saw versus Virginia Tech using multiple options running the ball and doing it all over the place. The Heels offensive line is as healthy as it has been at any point this season. Much of that line was intact last week versus the Hokies and it seems to have made some difference.
Bottom line? The Duke train stops here. In the end this is still UNC vs Duke and the Heels need to treat it as such and kick these sorry Blue Devils back to Durham with their pointed tails between their legs.
UNC 28 Duke 20