TV Schedule: Saturday, November 7, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Stadium: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Line: UNC (-8)
The rivalry between Duke and North Carolina is one of the greatest in college sports. A distance of roughly eight miles makes it notoriously heated. However, it is normally the two schools’ basketball programs making headlines and taking names.
But this year, both schools’ football programs have been exceedingly more than just a space and time filler before the start of basketball season.
The Blue Devils have only lost two games. The first was to a ranked Northwestern in Week 3 (19-10). The second was last week to Miami in one of the worst ways possible. With no time on the clock, Miami ran a kickoff return all way back for a game-winning touchdown. However, during the play, a Miami running back clearly had a knee on the field, meaning the game should have been over and Duke should have won.
Despite several replays, the game officials did not negate the touchdown and Miami walked away with a win. The ACC has admitted to several blown calls by the officials and suspended the officiating crew and the off-field replay official. But will it be enough to satiate Duke? Or will UNC be dealing with their biggest rival and lots of pent up aggression as well? As good as UNC has been this season, the Tar Heels might not be good enough to overcome that.
North Carolina is 7-1 after a Week 1 loss to South Carolina (17-13) and is only allowing 17 points per game thanks to the defensive prowess of first-year DC Gene Chizik.
Last week, the Tar Heels made a statement against ACC-rival Pittsburgh. Carolina came out on top of a ranked Pittsburgh and pulled the ranking out from under them. However, the Heels will be without corner Brian Walker this Saturday, who left the team in search of more playing time elsewhere.
Hopefully head coach Larry Fedora talked to UNC’s basketball coach, Roy Williams, and got some tips on how to play with the pressure of a ranking. Unfortunately, Duke coach David Cutcliffe likely got some advice on how to beat a ranked Carolina team from his basketball counterpart Mike Krzyzewski.
Even a little help from the legendary Coach K might not be enough to put the Blue Devils on top. It’ll be a close one, just like these matchups always are, but UNC has the momentum. Duke will probably be more worried about what the officials are doing/not doing than what happens on the other side of the ball, so UNC should escape with a less controversial win.
Prediction: UNC 34, Duke 28