In one of the oldest, most well-known rivalries in college football, a matchup between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils never fails to be competitive. Whether on the basketball court or the football field, this is a rivalry staked in the history books.
Coming off of a second loss to an unranked team this season, the UNC football team (4-2, 4-2 ACC) is looking to defeat rival Duke (2-5, 1-5 ACC). After narrowly losing to Virginia this past weekend, UNC must rely on a strong defensive effort to withstand the Blue Devils' running game, as well as an efficient offensive strategy that takes advantage of every opportunity.
Improving defensive performance
The South’s Oldest Rivalry tarnished UNC’s record yet again last week, due largely to another inconsistent performance from the front seven of the Tar Heel's defense. North Carolina allowed Virginia to accumulate a total of 210 rushing yards in comparison to its own 93 total rushing yards. In last week’s game versus UNC-Charlotte, Duke running back duo Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant combined for 205 yards and four rushing touchdowns to seal the victory for the Blue Devils. Stopping a highly capable Duke running game will be critical for the Tar Heels to earn a victory in this rivalry matchup.
Although it's not the defensive side of the ball, the UNC offensive line will have to do a better job of defending its quarterback. North Carolina allowed sophomore quarterback Sam Howell to be sacked five times throughout last week's game. Each sack resulted in a loss greater than five yards and allowed momentum to shift in Virginia’s direction. It will be essential for the Tar Heel offensive line to protect and defend Howell in the pocket versus Duke.