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UNC at Duke

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Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
When: Saturday, November 27, 3:30 PM
TV: ESPNU
Records: UNC 6-5, 3-4 ACC; Duke 3-8, 1-6

This ought to be fun.

Although UNC has claimed the Victory Bell 19 times out of the last 20 meetings with Duke, the games tend to be close. And given the propensity the Devils have shown to score points - and give up points - the scoreboard operator at Wallace Wade may get a workout on Saturday.

Though Duke has only posted three wins this season, they are no longer an easy out (not that they ever were for the Tar Heels regardless of record). David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils playing competitive football and they have been slinging the ball all over the field on the arm of sophomore QB Sean Renfree, who threw for 334 yards in a 30-20 loss to Georgia Tech last week. Renfree has five games of over 300 yards this season. Renfree's favorite target has been tight end Cooper Helfet, and the Devils also have a capable kicker in Will Snyderwine, who booted a career-long 52-yarder last week.

The problem for Duke is that they haven't really been able to stop anyone this season. The Devils are giving up nearly 450 yards of total offense and over 36 points per game. Duke was up on GT 13-6 at halftime last week before the Jackets. without injured QB Joshua Nesbitt, exploded for 24 second-half points.

Meanwhile for the Tar Heels, this game would certainly have to be anticlimactic after last week's heartbreaking loss to NC State. Carolina has already clinched a postseason berth and has little to play for other than pride and bowl positioning. Senior quarterback T.J. Yates has rewritten the UNC record books for passing yards, completions, and attempts, but unless Yates has a prolific day against Duke and in the bowl game, the one career record he has not taken from Darian Durant, career touchdown passes, will not be broken.

Anthony Elzy continues to serve admirably in relief of injured starting Johnny White, but the injury list continues for the Tar Heels. Tight end Ed Barham joins defensive lineman Tim Jackson on the doubtful list, and senior linebacker Bruce Carter is listed as questionable after being hurt against NC State.

UNC has faced two major issues in its two-game losing streak and over the past month of the season. First is turnovers - UNC only has six turnovers in its six wins, but has 15 turnovers in the five losses. The other issue the Heels have struggled with recently is 3rd down conversions, on both sides of the ball. Carolina has only converted 31% of its 3rd downs in the last three games, and in its five losses, UNC's opponents are converting nearly 43% of their 3rd downs.

In the end, UNC has not had much of a problem scoring and should not against a porous Duke defense. The question is, can the Heels avoid a letdown versus a Duke team hoping to be a spoiler? A win guarantees a 3rd-straight winning season for Carolina for only the 4th time in the past 60 years.

Oh, and by the way, Pam Ward and Danny Kannell are calling the game on ESPNU. Consider yourself warned.

UNC 42, Duke 27