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UNC Takes on Rival Duke for Victory Bell

Sharon Thorsland
October 25, 2019 - 2:35 pm

North Carolina takes on Duke on Saturday with the Victory Bell on the line. 

I don't know about you, but I'm still exhausted from last week's game against Virginia Tech.  

It only took six overtimes to lose to the Hokies 43-41!  I'm hoping the Tar Heels have recovered by now because arch-rival Duke is coming to town for a homecoming showdown.  

UNC is sitting at 3-4 on the season, while the Blue Devils are 4-3, coming off a 48-14 beatdown by Virginia.  

Both teams are 2-2 in league play, though, so this is actually an important game in terms of conference standings.  Kick-off is set for 4:00 on WBT.

It's been an up and down year for Duke, who looked great in wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech but stunk it up in other games, including against the Cavaliers.  

Former star quarterback Daniel Jones has taken his talents to the NFL, so fifth-year senior Quentin Harris is the centerpiece of Duke's offense.  

He's a dual-threat, throwing for 1271 yards and 12 touchdowns, and also leading the Blue Devil's running attack with 472 rushing yards and five more scores.  

Behind Harris, the Blue Devils are averaging over 172 rushing yards per game.  When he does throw, Harris gets the ball out fast, and he gets plenty of protection from his offensive line, which has given up just seven sacks on the year.  

Jalon Calhoun is Harris' top target with 31 receptions, three of them for touchdowns, Aaron Young has a pair of scores.  UNC's secondary is banged up and a lot of young guys have been forced into action, so look for the Blue Devils to try to exploit that.

One of Duke's biggest problems is holding on to the football.  They had five turnovers against the Cavaliers last week.  They've lost the most fumbles in the ACC and are tied for last in turnover margin.

The Tar Heels are having no such problems, they've only lost the ball six times this season and are third in the league in turnover margin.  

One reason is the excellent play of freshman quarterback Sam Howell.  He's only thrown three interceptions to go with 20 touchdowns and is averaging 274 passing yards per game.  

UNC's ground game is solid as well, with Javonte Williams and Michael Carter combining for over 1,000 yards so far this season.  

But Duke's defense is pretty good again this season, against the pass and the run.  The Blue Devils are led by linebacker Koby Quansah, but keep an eye on defensive end Victor Dimukeje – he's had 6.5 sacks in the past three games. 

And the Heels have given up 25 of them this season.

The Heels will be using a new kicker this week after Noah Ruggles missed a pair of field goals in overtime against the Hokies, including a potential game-winner.  

Duke has an excellent kicker – A.J. Reed is 8 of 8 on field goals this season and perfect on extra points as well, so let's hope this one doesn't come down to a kick to win it.

This will be with 106th game between these teams – Duke has won the past three and five of the last seven.  

And while this is certainly a rivalry game, this one is about more than just bragging rights.  

The ACC Coastal Division is still up for grabs, and both teams are trying to become bowl eligible. 

 After suffering yet another excruciating loss, the Tar Heels are looking to bounce back and get to .500 on the season.  

I say UNC gets it done and brings the Victory Bell back to Chapel Hill.  Go Tar Heels!

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