Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#159 Duke 56.5 vs.
#160 North Carolina (UNC) -3.5
Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 4:00pm EDT
Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill
Written by Chris Kubala

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#159 Duke University
#160 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
4-3
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4-3
6-1
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31
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A pair of teams from the Coastal Division of the ACC from the Tar Heel State take the field against one another. The Duke Blue Devils make the in-state trek as they battle the North Carolina Tar Heels Saturday afternoon. Duke was crushed 48-14 on the road by Virginia in their previous contest last Saturday. North Carolina was edged 43-41 in sextuple overtime on the road to Virginia Tech in their previous game last Saturday. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series between the teams 58-36-4 but the Blue Devils have won the last three matchups, including a 42-35 home win in the last meeting on November 10, 2018.

Duke Blue Devils Look to Rebound

Duke suffered their second loss in three games after a three-game win streak as they were hammered on the road by Virginia in their last game. The Blue Devils now try to rebound and avoid a third defeat in four games while staying in the race for the Coastal Division crown. Duke was involved in a scoreless tie after one quarter against Virginia before the roof fell in: they were outscored 17-0 in the second quarter and 24-7 in the third to trail 41-7 entering the fourth. That told the tale of the contest. The Blue Devils were outgained 307-250, gave up 17 first downs while picking up 14 and lost the time of possession battle by a 34:29 to 25:31 margin. Duke was hurt by five turnovers and gave up a kickoff return for a score while forcing only two takeaways.

The Blue Devils are 105th in the nation in passing offense with 192.1 yards per game and 56th in rushing offense by picking up 175.6 yards per contest. Duke is 50th in the FBS in scoring offense with 31.3 points per game while they are 60th in scoring defense by allowing 26.7 points per contest. Quentin Harris has completed 128 of 207 passes for 1,271 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions this season: he leads the team with 417 yards on the ground plus five scores on the year. Chris Katrenick is three of six for 49 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Deon Jackson is the lead back for the Blue Devils with 105 carries for 396 yards and five scores. Mataeo Durant (61 carries, 226 yards, TD) is the next back in the system. Jalon Calhoun leads the team with 31 receptions for 257 yards and three touchdowns this season. Noah Gray (29 catches, 209 yards, two TD), Aaron Young (16 catches, 206 yards, two TD) and Scott Bracey (14 grabs, 195 yards, TD) are other options in the passing game. AJ Reed has hit all 25 extra point attempts and eight of eight field goal tries with a long of 50 yards this season.

North Carolina Tar Heels Hoping to Turn Things Around

North Carolina had their chances but missed several chances to put the game away: they ended up losing in the first game contested under the new NCAA rules regarding multiple overtimes. The Tar Heels are 2-2 in the ACC and a win here would help them keep pace in the Coastal Division. North Carolina held a slim 491-490 edge in total offense: both teams had 23 first downs while the Tar Heels lost the time of possession by a 32:12 to 27:48 margin. The Tar Heels forced two turnovers in the game while not committing one in the contest. North Carolina announced that Jonathan Kim would be taking over the kicking duties after Noah Ruggles was two of four on field goals in the contest.

The Tar Heels are 33rd in the nation in passing offense as they average 273.9 yards through the air and 72nd in rushing with 160.7 yards per contest. North Carolina is 73rd in the FBS in scoring offense by averaging 28.6 points per game and are 65th in scoring defense as they allow 27 points per contest. Sam Howell has completed 149 of 244 passes for 1,892 yards with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions this season. Jace Ruder is one of two for seven yards. Javonte Williams leads the Tar Heels in the ground game with 94 carries for 529 yards and three scores. Michael Carter is next up as he has 97 carries for 478 yards this season. Dazz Newsome leads the team with 38 receptions for 479 yards and five scores this season. Dyami Brown (26 catches, 477 yards, five TD, Beau Corrales (23 receptions, 261 yards, four TD) and Rontavious Groves (19 grabs, 193 yards, TD) are secondary options. Ruggles has hit all 20 extra points and 10 of 16 field goal attempts with a long of 49 this season.

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Duke has had the upper hand in this series lately and they trounced Virginia Tech 45-10 last month when the teams met. The Blue Devils have had problems with the turnover bug and that’s a major factor for them here. Duke is a -5 in the takeaway/giveaway battle while North Carolina is a +3 in that department. North Carolina could be 7-0 instead of 3-4 if a couple of plays went their way this season as opposed to the other way: their four losses have come by a combined 12 points. The Tar Heels came within a missed two-point conversion of dropping then-#1 Clemson, losing by one: they fell by six to Wake Forest, by three to Appalachian State and by two to Virginia Tech. Seeing how Duke’s lone win over a quasi-relevant team was their win over Virginia Tech, it’s tough to have faith in them on the road. Take North Carolina to prevail at home.

Prediction: North Carolina Tar Heels -3.5

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Duke has struggled in the last few weeks as their defense has failed to make critical plays in clutch moments. The blowout loss to Virginia was concerning as they turned the ball over five times: they had six turnovers in a game against Pitt earlier this month. Duke's inability to play smart, sound football is a headscratcher. North Carolina has played tough: they're in every game and nearly upended Clemson at home. The Tar Heels don't get blown out and they make you earn everything you get on the offensive side of things. Can Duke get back on track or will North Carolina even their record on the season by prevailing in this one?

The under is 4-1 in the Blue Devils' last 5 road games vs. a team with a losing home record and 16-6 in their last 22 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game. North Carolina has seen the under go 5-1 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record and 4-1 in their last 5 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game. The under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings in North Carolina: given the way that both teams have had issues offensively, this one ends up under the total.

Prediction: Under 54

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North Carolina has been solid as they make every game difficult for the opposition. The Tar Heels don't get blown out while Duke is struggling to put together any kind of consistency. The Blue Devils have been blown out in losses to Alabama and Virginia: they have to battle with a North Carolina offense that can do damage through the air and make life tough. Given the fact that it's hard to know what to expect from Duke at this point in time, you have to give the advantage to North Carolina at the half.

Prediction: North Carolina Tar Heels -3

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Duke has struggled to find consistency this season. The Blue Devils have to put together 60 minutes on a weekly basis if they hope to contend in the ACC. North Carolina has had their issues at times offensively: when that happens, the defense steps up and makes plays to keep them in the game. When it's all said and done, it wouldn't be a surprise to see both teams put up a couple of touchdowns on the board in the opening half. This one ends up slightly over the total at intermission.

Prediction: Over 27.5
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.