North Carolina looks to bounce back vs. rival Duke
North Carolina needs another get-well outing after a second loss to an unranked team.
But that attempt at a bounce-back performance comes against rival Duke on Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The host Blue Devils insist they’re revived after a week off before their convincing nonconference victory Saturday against Charlotte, so they’ll try do their part at raising the stakes when the Tar Heels arrive.
“We can continue to grow off this,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “Really an exciting time. … Both games we’ve won, we started quickly. Every little detail is going to matter.”
North Carolina’s losses have been marked by first-half deficits. The Tar Heels rallied both times, but the outcomes were three-point setbacks.
“For some reason, when we lose we dig ourselves a hole in the second quarter and then have to fight back out of it in the third and fourth quarter,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “We’ve got to quit doing that.”
For the second time this year, North Carolina comes off a narrow loss with its next game against a neighboring rival. Last month, the response was a dominating victory over then-nationally ranked North Carolina State.
Following the 44-41 loss Saturday night at Virginia, the Tar Heels (4-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) are out of the national rankings for the first time this season.
This is the second season since Brown returned to coach the Tar Heels. They’re 3-5 in road games under Brown.
“So we’ve got to play much better on the road,” he said. “We’ve talked about that (and) we’ve got another one coming up this weekend.”
A year ago, Duke drove into range for a potential game-winning touchdown. Instead, Tar Heels linebacker Chazz Surratt’s interception at the goal line on a Duke trick play thwarted the threat in a stunning development that allowed North Carolina to hang on for a 20-17 home victory.
The Tar Heels snapped Duke’s three-game winning streak in the series and regained possession of the Victory Bell, which the winning team keeps until the next meeting determines ownership.
“It’s intense, it’s extremely intense,” Cutcliffe said. “It’s more than bragging rights. … a huge, huge challenge, but it’s extremely important.”
The Blue Devils (2-5, 1-5) have expressed the desire to win the Victory Bell.
“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some good rivalries,” said Duke quarterback Chase Brice, a transfer from Clemson. “You don’t like anybody in the state, honestly. … Winning is not easy no matter who you’re playing in college football.”
The Tar Heels say they’ll be ready.
“We know they’re going to come out hot because of the rivalry, just like NC State did,” North Carolina linebacker Tomon Fox said. “But we have to stay to ourselves, stay true to what we do and we’ll be OK.”
North Carolina has allowed more than 200 rushing yards in both its losses.
Duke running backs Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant each have eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in two of the past three games – both Duke victories.
“They can run the ball well and we haven’t stopped the run,” Brown said. “They can block punts and we’ve had blocked punts. They’ve got to really good pass rushers and we’ve had trouble protecting the passer. So we’ve got our hands full.”
Brown bemoaned the lack of time of possession for the Tar Heels in the Virginia game. But Duke took a different route in trouncing Charlotte, holding possession for only 17 minutes, 33 seconds, utilizing quick strikes and ideal field possession that reduced its number of snaps. Charlotte had possession for more than 42 minutes.
Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell of North Carolina threw for a career-high 443 yards to go with four touchdown passes in the Virginia game. He was named the ACC Quarterback of the Week despite the setback.
North Carolina receiver Beau Corrales will miss another game with an injury.
North Carolina leads the series 62-40-4.
Per coronavirus-related restrictions, no fans will be in attendance.
–Field Level Media