Duke in 2013: 9-2 (Defeated Wake Forest 28-21 last time out)
North Carolina in 2013: 6-5 (Defeated Old Dominion 80-20 last time out)
QUESTIONABLE – Jonathan Woodruff (DE)
OUT – Thomas Sirk (QB), Garrett Rider (S), Chris Hoover (LB), Jack Wise (WR)
OUT FOR SEASON – Tanner Stone (OT), Jamal Wallace (DT)
NORTH CAROLINA INJURIES - Not available
Throw out both team's records to date, season statistics, performance against common opponents, along with all the analysis offered up by anyone, this is Duke versus Carolina so all the before mentioned is nothing more than background noise. This game will be a fight to the finish! And it will require a total team effort to secure a win, which is why this game preview prominently features the team photo. Everyone has to do their part!
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
Run the ball! North Carolina yields 183 yards per game on the ground, which is more than six of the seven teams Duke has defeated in their current seven game winning streak. I know, I said throw out the statistics, but a framework for victory has to be drafted. Duke does not need to rush for 358 yards like they did against Miami; however, a 234 yard performance such as the one in the 33-30 win over the Tar Heels in 2012 would be advantageous.
While establishing the run, maximize touches for play maker Jamison Crowder. Crowder can burn opponents deep, but he is equally dangerous as an integral part of the short passing game.
On defense, bring the heat! Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams is fleet of foot and can throw the ball. Duke must prevent him from scrambling and improvising, and the best way to accomplish that task is with the blitz. Kelby Brown and Corbin McCarthy have demonstrated the ability to accomplish that task so defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is going to need to let the dogs out come Saturday afternoon.
Finally, the staff needs to throw in an offensive wrinkle or two to keep Carolina off balance and guessing.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
Another slow start could be fatal. Duke must play a full 60 minutes of football to defeat North Carolina. Duke's 4th Quarter statistics are extremely impressive (#1 in the Nation in points differential at +76), but like I said earlier, throw out the statistics. It seems I'm going back and forth with this theme. Duke must not spot Carolina a double digit lead in the 1st Quarter as they did to Wake Forest and Miami the past two weeks.
Special teams play is another concern. Switzer is a dangerous punt return specialist and Duke has suffered recent punt coverage woes. The spotlight will be on punter Will Monday once or twice during this game so he needs to rise to the occasion and pin Carolina deep with accurate sideline punts.
WHY DUKE WILL WIN
The team is on a roll and has consistently risen to the occasion and made plays when plays had to be made. This will continue to happen in Kenan Stadium. The team is focused upon the task at hand and seems driven to achieve the ultimate goal of competing for an ACC Championship in 2013. A victory over Carolina will send Duke to Charlotte to take on Florida State in the ACC Championship Game and I see Duke as team unwilling to be denied! The Stars and the Moon are aligned...
The Victory Bell stays in Durham! Wow, there are a lot of exclamation marks used in this preview. That has to be a function of the whole Duke, Carolina rivalry thing.
Duke 34, North Carolina 31