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Tale of the Tape: UNC vs Duke

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

And here we go.

North Carolina Duke
Record 5-5 8-2
ACC Record 3-3 4-2
AP Poll Rank N/R 25
Points Per Game 35.9 32.9
Total TDs 50 40
Total Offense Per Game 430.6 396.1
Total Offense Per Play 5.6 5.4
Rushing Per Game 140.3 193.7
Rushing Per Att 3.8 5.3
Passing Per Game 290.3 202.4
Passing Per Att 7.2 5.5
Fumbles Lost 5 6
Interceptions 11 3
3rd Down Conv. 43.6% 36.8%
4th Down Conv. 44.4% 47.4%
Red Zone Conv. 92.3% 88.4%
Field Goals 5-10 16-18
Points Allowed Per Game 41.2 18.1
Total Defense Per Game 511.6 389.7
Total Defense Per Play 6.5 5.1
Rushing Per Game 228.2 197.6
Rushing Per Att 4.9 5.3
Passing Per Game 283.4 192.1
Passing Per Att 8.8 5.9
Fumbles Recovered 9 5
Interceptions 11 11
Sacks 17.0 21.0
Tackles for Loss 57.0 46.0
3rd Down Conv. 49.3% 35.3%
4th Down Conv. 85.7% 15.0%
Red Zone Conv. 16.7% 91.4%

The numbers really point to a pair of key areas as it pertains to the overall match up. The first in Duke's defense. The Blue Devils are holding teams to 18.1 ppg on the strength of the country's 14th ranked pass defense and a +16 turnover margin. The pass defense also illustrates the stark difference between UNC and Duke in that area. Both teams have 11 interceptions which is tied for 32nd in the nation and fourth in the ACC. However, whereas teams pick UNC's secondary apart, Duke does a much better job in coverage. In ten games Duke has given up 33 pass plays of 15+ yards, UNC has surrendered 74. On plays 25 yards or more, Duke has given up 20 versus UNC's 35. Duke has an ACC best seven passing touchdowns given up while UNC is the bottom of the league having given up 24, eight more than the next worst team. Passing against Duke will be tough and given the Blue Devils are 79th in yards per rushing attempt, the ground game might be UNC's best option to spark the offense.

Speaking of the ground game, Duke's is just the latest team UNC will face with a solid running game. The Blue Devils are 5th in the ACC with 5.2 yards per rushing attempt and average almost 200 yards per game on the ground. As Paul noted, Duke has six players with at least 100 yards rushing and there are three with over 300 yards. Freshman Shaun Wilson has a gaudy 8.64 yards per carry and leads the team with 55.3 yards per game. The Blue Devil offensive line is experienced and effective which will give the parade of Duke running backs plenty of room to run and Anthony Boone time to throw.

Duke is a team that doesn't beat itself too often. The Blue Devils did on Saturday against Virginia Tech but that was against a tough defense. UNC doesn't perform well enough on defense to necessarily force errors which means whatever UNC can glean in terms of stops may come from some unforced errors. That being said, Pitt turned the ball over just once, had a running back who got yardage practically any time he wanted and the Heels still managed to win the game. If UNC is to knock off Duke, the same will likely be true.