UNC vs. Duke prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Tar Heels and Blue Devils on Thursday in Durham, NC.
UNC vs. Duke Game Preview
When: Thursday, Nov. 10 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Elijah Hood had his second consecutive 100-yard game, rushing for 168 yards and three touchdowns to help the Tar Heels (7-2, 5-1 ACC) take a 48-20 contest at home against Georgia Tech last week. UNC recorded 636 total yards, including a season-high 283 on the ground, and tallied the game’s final 21 points.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils (3-6, 0-5) suffered a tough 24-21 home loss to Virginia Tech last Saturday, as Adonis Alexander returned a blocked field goal 75 yards for a score, and Jerod Evans passed for 192 yards and scored on a seven-yard run in which he carried along three Duke defenders for the ride. Duke has lost three straight and is 1-4 since upsetting Notre Dame.
When these teams met last year in Chapel Hill, Marquise Williams threw for 404 of his 494 yards by halftime in UNC’s 66-31 win. Williams threw for four touchdowns and ran for another, as seven players scored for the Tar Heels.
What To Know About UNC
The Tar Heels had an extra week to prepare for Georgia Tech’s option offense, but they still allowed 518 total yards (including 334 on the ground) and 7.6 yards per play. UNC recovered two fumbles in the second half, Bug Howard had six catches for 120 yards (his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game), and the Heels kept alive their hopes of repeating as ACC Coastal division champions. UNC does not have to leave the state of North Carolina for the rest of the regular season, starting with the game Thursday night against Duke. While the defense has not been as strong as coordinator Gene Chizik would prefer, this is an offense that can keep the Heels in any game.
What to Know About Duke
After dropping a tough game to Georgia Tech following their bye, the Blue Devils gave away another ACC contest to remain winless in league play. It appears that David Cutcliffe’s squad is going to miss the postseason, as all of the tough setbacks are starting to pile up. With running back Jela Duncan out for the season after rupturing his left Achilles tendon, Shaun Wilson had 21 rushes for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Hokies in his first game as the No. 1 running back. While it has been a tough season, Duke is in very good hands with Daniel Jones at quarterback. The freshman has excelled since being forced into the lineup when Thomas Sirk was lost in the preseason. He’s just another example of a quarterback shining under Cutcliffe.
Offense: UNC. The Tar Heels are averaging 34.2 points per game compared to Duke’s 24.1 points per contest.
Defense: Duke. The Blue Devils have an improved line compared to last season.
Special Teams: Even. Ryan Switzer has always been a threat as a returner for UNC, but Wilson is Duke’s X-Factor and can change the momentum of a game.
Coaching: Even. Larry Fedora is putting together a second consecutive strong season in Chapel Hill, while Cutcliffe’s group will always play hard for him.
Intangibles: UNC. This is a team focused on playing for an ACC championship.
Matchup To Watch
Hood vs. Duke defensive front
Hood ran for three touchdowns in last year’s meeting, gaining 69 yards on 17 carries. This UNC passing offense led by quarterback Mitch Trubisky is going to be a tough enough test for Duke’s defense, so limiting the effectiveness of Hood will be a priority to at least make the Tar Heels’ attack more one-dimensional.
Spread: UNC -10.5
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
UNC vs. Duke Prediction
The Blue Devils’ defense will offer some resistance to the UNC offense in the first half, but the second half will be a different story. Trubisky and Co. break things open in the fourth quarter and continue to be in the Coastal division mix.
UNC vs. Duke Score Prediction: UNC 34, Duke 23