Battling for Tobacco Road doesn't have the same magnitude on the football field as it does on the basketball court, but the proximity between Duke and North Carolina won't be any different on Saturday.
The Blue Devils are 5-3 after falling to Virginia Tech last week. They jumped out to a 20-7 first-quarter lead, before ultimately losing their grasp on the game to the Hokies.
North Carolina defeated Miami (FL) 18-14 on Saturday, allowing them to keep pace in the ACC Coastal division.
This should be a tightly contested game. Duke's squad is more competitive than it has been in some time, and the Blue Devils will challenge the Heels.
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
When: Saturday, October 20 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line: Duke (+10), Over/Under 63.5, according to covers.com
Injury Report for North Carolina (according to USAToday.com)
P Miller Snyder - Undisclosed - Questionable
FB Connor Gonet - Undisclosed - Questionable
T T.J. Leifheit - Ankle - Questionable
LB Darius Lipford - Knee - Questionable
RB Travis Riley - Leg - Out for Season
LB Keeon Virgile - Undisclosed - Out Indefinitely
FB Devon Ramsay - Knee - Out Indefinitely
WR T.J. Thorpe - Foot - Out Indefinitely
Injury Report for Duke (according to USAToday.com)
S Chris Tavarez - Knee - Probable
DT Jamal Wallace - Lower Body - Questionable
S August Campbell - Upper Body - Questionable
LB Kelby Brown - Knee - Questionable
G Lucas Patrick - Ankle - Questionable
S Corbin McCarthy - Shoulder - Out for Season
DE Allen Jackson - Shoulder - Out for Season
CB Jared Boyd - Knee - Out Indefinitely
TE Jack Farrell - Leg - Out for Season
S Jeremy Cash - Eligibility - Out for Season
S Taylor Sowell - Achilles - Out for Season
WR Blair Holliday - Head - Out for Season
TE Braxton Deaver - Knee - Out Indefinitely
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Both of these teams are capable of falling in subsequent weeks, but this game is big within the ACC standings.
With Miami (FL) facing Florida State on Saturday, the Hurricanes will probably lose. That means one of these two squads will likely take over the top spot in the ACC Coastal division.
The Blue Devils still must face Florida State and Clemson this season, while the Tar Heels face no ranked opponents the rest of the way. A win for North Carolina could allow it to run the table the rest of the way.
Neither of these squads will make legitimate BCS noise.
What They're Saying
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe had this to say about his squad following the disappointing loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday in an interview with The Herald-Sun reporter Steve Wiseman:
When we went dormant and they exploded, it wasn’t a game anymore. We’ve got a lot to learn still about handling adversity and a talented team that gets hot on you. We didn’t handle it very well.
Larry Fedora also had a few things to say about his running back Giovani Bernard, courtesy of chapelboro.com, stating, "He’s a complete back. He can do it all: block, catch, and run. He’s a great teammate, and it’s good to see him do it in his hometown.”
Who to Watch (North Carolina): Eric Ebron, TE
Ebron is emerging as one of the most dangerous tight ends in the nation, following a seven-catch, 87-yard performance versus Miami (FL) on Saturday.
The 6'4'' sophomore gives Bryn Renner a legitimate target to find down the field. He's still raw, but his athleticism makes him a difficult matchup for most linebackers and safeties.
Still expect the Tar Heels to lean on their ground game, but don't overlook Ebron's ability. He's getting better every week.
Who to Watch (Duke): Conner Vernon, WR
Vernon is a prototypical slot receiver. He's fast, agile and instinctual in Cutcliffe's offense.
He has 45 catches for 625 yards and five touchdowns so far this season, working well with Duke signal-caller Sean Renfree.
North Carolina won't have an answer for Vernon underneath. He doesn't have breakaway speed, but his smarts allow him to exploit any soft spot in the defense.
This is a tough one, but North Carolina will get it done. The rivalry game will bring many emotions to the forefront, allowing the Tar Heels to continue their momentum off of last week's big win over the Hurricanes.
Renfree is enjoying a solid season, but Renner gets it done when his team needs it most.
Prediction: North Carolina 31, Duke 23