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November 29, 2013
Inside the Numbers: Duke
It has been a long, up and down season for North Carolina, but the Tar Heels have a chance to be a spoiler for one of the most surprising teams in not only the ACC, but in all college football. Duke comes in ranked for the second week in a row, and could finish the regular season with a 10-2 record and the ACC Coastal Division title outright if they defeat the Tar Heels Saturday in Kenan Stadium.
And it hasn't been a fluke for the Blue Devils, as Duke has been putting up big numbers all over the field this season, with a dynamic offense and a defense to help back it up.
Last season, the Blue Devils were able to rally late in the fourth quarter to take home a 33-30 victory and become bowl eligible, while also stealing away the Victory Bell for the first time since 2003 and just the second time since 1989.
The Blue Devils were able to rack up 510 yards total against the Tar Heels last season, while the Tar Heels were held three field goals before Renner was able to go off with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Tar Heel Illustrated breaks down the numbers again, as the Tar Heels will be looking to end Duke's seven game winning streak while not allowing the Blue Devils to have complete control over the Coastal Division.
The Blue Devils have turned the table around under coach David Cutcliffe and with a win, will be headed to Charlotte for an ACC Championship Game showdown with Florida State.
When looking at the Blue Devils, you can go down the list to see where Duke has improved and where the Tar Heels will have to be on top of their game.
Last year, the Blue Devils racked up over 200 yards in both passing and rushing against the Tar Heels and will look to do the same this year, as Duke has been averaging 34.3 points per game, which is good to be 36th in the nation.
Furthermore, the defense has only been giving up 22.8 points per game.
The Blue Devils are much like the Tar Heels in many ways, as these two defenses know how to move the ball both passing and rushing as of late, with the Tar Heels averaging 8.4 yards per attempt throwing (compared to 7.5 yards per attempt for the Blue Devils), while Duke holds the edge in the rushing attack (average 4.59 yards per play compared to 3.78 for the Tar Heels).
Both teams have dual threat quarterbacks, as Marquise Williams is coming off a five touchdown performance against Old Dominion last week and has provided a rushing attack that was lacking early in the season as Williams is the leading rusher on the team with 386 yards.
Quarterback Brandon Connette has been coming on strong lately for the Blue Devils, as Anthony Boone has struggled at times with turnovers (has eight touchdowns to nine interceptions).
Connette also provides a rushing attack like Williams does, as he has ran for 324 yards and 13 touchdowns at the quarterback position, something that the Tar Heels will have to keep in the back of their mind when he is on the field.
Forcing the Blue Devils to throw the ball on the road will be something that North Carolina will try to do, as Duke has struggled with at times this season with Boone at the quarterback position.
On the road, Duke has thrown for 953 yards, while only rushing for 565 yards on the ground. Yet, Duke is 4-0 on the road this season, with wins against Memphis, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
The Blue Devils average 397 yards per game on the road, which is slightly under their 418 yard average on the season and with the recent defensive presence for the Tar Heels, getting in the backfield or pressure on the quarterback will be a factor.
Also, the Tar Heels have been averaging 500 yards per game (a huge increase from last week's 80-20 win) and will be looking to hit their receivers out in the open, much like they have in their five game winning streak.
The Blue Devils have given up almost 2,500 yards passing on defense, and Williams will look to hit his big time receivers who have been making plays all year long (the UNC receivers have been averaging 13 yards per reception).
Players like Quinshad Davis, Eric Ebron, and the young guys like Ryan Switzer, will all be looking to spread the ball around the field. Last week, Davis and Switzer combined 242 receiving yards, something that head coach Larry Fedora would love to produce again.
This will be the last ACC game for Ebron, who announced earlier this week he will be heading into the NFL draft this year and he would love nothing more to get a win against the Blue Devils in his final contest in Kenan Stadium.
Duke has one of the top receivers in the ACC in Jamison Crowder, who reached the 1,000 yard mark this season (1,077 yards and five touchdowns).
He is also a dangerous punt return man, as Crowder has returned two for touchdowns this season. Switzer has been the talk for the Tar Heel faithful though, as he has returned four himself for touchdowns, all in the last three games.
North Carolina recognizes that the Blue Devils have struggled on third down, only being able to capitalize 37 percent of the time.
Forcing the Blue Devils in third and long (obviously putting more pressure on Duke to throw the ball), could certainly change the aspect of the game in favor of North Carolina.
Either way, this should be a great match up between two rivals, as this will be the 100th meeting between these two teams separated by only eight miles.
The Blue Devils will look to push their streak to two games against the Tar Heels, while finishing the season on an eight game winning streak. The Tar Heels will look to end the season on a six game winning streak and ending their season above .500, before heading into the bowl season.