UNC Football vs. Duke: Game preview, info, prediction and more

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: Anthony Ratliff-Williams
CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: Anthony Ratliff-Williams /

The UNC Football program returns to action Saturday with a road game in Durham as they look to beat rival Duke

The North Carolina Tar Heels aren’t going to a bowl game for the second-straight season and with just a few games left in the year, they are essentially playing for pride.

On Saturday, they have a chance to show some school pride when they take on rival Duke in Durham in the battle for the Victory Bell. The Tar Heels have lost the previous two meetings against the Blue Devils, including an upset in 2016 when UNC was ranked No. 17 and still had a chance at winning the Coastal Division.

Last season, UNC hung with Duke and had a 17-13 lead going into the fourth quarter before the Blue Devils scored 14 in the final frame to win it.

UNC is entering this game on a five-game losing streak with all of those losses coming to Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. In those three of those five games, the Tar Heels were tied or had a lead in the fourth quarter but weren’t able to close it out.

Their struggles have mounted this season and the job status of head coach Larry Fedora is in question heading into these final three games. With two of the three against Duke and N.C. State, Fedora is going to have to sweep his rivals to give him some hope.

The Tar Heels have lost four-straight against the Blue Devils and Wolfpack, an eye sore on Fedora’s struggles since winning the Coastal Division in 2015.

What UNC needs to do to win this game..

Play smart and play for your school. This one is all about pride, folks. If there’s any silver-lining to this bad season, it would be by beating Duke and N.C. State.

First up are the Blue Devils who enter the game at 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the conference and have had their fair-share of struggles. Duke is coming off a big win over Miami on the road in a game where their offense struggled.

Quarterback Daniel Jones threw for just 130 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. That performance came just a week after Jones threw for four touchdowns in a loss to Pitt.

Jones has had UNC’s number in the previous two meetings, so zoning in on him and slowing down this offense would go a long way for a Tar Heels’ victory.

With a rivalry like this, you can usually throw the records out of the window. In 2016, Duke entered just 1-5 in the conference but managed to pull off the upset. In 2017, UNC had just one win on the season and almost pulled it off.

The focus is on Duke…

With the questions surrounding Fedora and the poor season thus far, UNC players have one focus this week: Beating Duke.

No matter how bad UNC has played this season, beating Duke would be huge for the program and would be their highlight. Senior Cole Holcomb is coming off a career game vs. Georgia Tech and he told reporters that UNC is treating this as their bowl game:

What you need to know

WHAT? UNC 1-7 (1-5 ACC) AT  Duke 6-3 (2-3 ACC)
WHEN? Saturday, Nov. 10 12:30 p.m. ET
WHERE? Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina
TV? ACC Network
RADIO? Tar Heel Sports Network. Jones Angell (play-by-play), Brian Simmons (analyst) and Lee Pace (sideline). Sirius 133, XM 385
WEATHER? Cloudy with a high of 51 degrees.
LINE? UNC – 10. Over/Under: 58
ALL-TIME SERIES? UNC leads the all-time series 58-39-4 but Duke has win the previous two meetings.