Duke-UNC Football Rivalry Will Reach New Heights This Weekend


Duke Football will head to North Carolina to face the Tar Heels this weekend in their annual rivalry match-up to compete for the Victory Bell, but the stakes are so high this year that many are considering tomorrow’s meeting to be the biggest football game in the history of the rivalry.

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This season will be one of the few season, if there are any at all, that both schools have really good football teams, both have been ranked in Top 25 polls at some point in the season, and the winner will most likely take the 2015 ACC Coastal Division title. In fact, if it weren’t for LSU-Alabama and Clemson-Florida State occuring this weekend, the Duke-UNC game would have most likely been nationally regarded as the top game in all of college football for Week 11.

The Blue Devils are coming off their first conference loss of the season to Miami, while UNC was able to upset then-#23 Pitt last week. The controversial ending of Duke’s last match-up and mistakes made by the referees last week were extremely heart-breaking but, as noted Miami fan and Ball Durham co-writer Michael Potrawski wrote after the game, the Blue Devils definitely had their chances to win.

Coach Cutcliffe has noted that the team has moved on in the locker room and put last weeks events behind them thanks to the leadership of team captains Jeremy Cash and Matt Skura. Hopefully the team can rally around this situation similar to how the Hurricanes came out and played well against Duke after firing their head coach, losing their starting QB, etc.

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Despite last week’s loss and the Tar Heels currently in first place for the division, Duke still controls the ACC Coastal Division and can return to the ACC Championship game in Charlotte for the 2nd time in 3 years. If the Blue Devils win out then they will automatically be in the championship game no matter what, because beating the Tar Heels will result in a tie if UNC also wins the rest of their games after this weekend and a Duke victory tomorrow will give them the tie-breaker. Duke also has to face 3rd place Pitt on November 14th, and a win against the Panthers will most likely knock them out of the race for the division title.

For the past few years the two schools have had extremely entertaining games. In 2012 Duke beat UNC on a game-winning touchdown catch by Jamison Crowder in the final seconds of the final quarter on 4th down to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994. The next year the Blue Devils went into Chapel Hill the last time they were on the road at North Carolina and beat the Tar Heels to help seal their 2013 Coastal Division title and record the first 10-win season in program history.

Last year, however, in a game that the Blue Devils needed to make it back to the ACC Championship Game for the second year in a row (along with a final win vs. Wake Forest), North Carolina blew out Duke in Wallace Wade which allowed Georgia Tech to pass the Blue Devils in the Coastal Division standings and they narrowly won the division. #21 UNC is favored to win this year, but we’ll have to wait and see how things play out as the top basketball rivalry in the country becomes even more intense in football this weekend. Duke and UNC will kick-off at noon this weekend in Chapel Hill, with the game being televised live on ESPN2.