UNC vs. Duke: Biggest Takeaways from Dramatic Rivalry Game

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UNC vs. Duke: Biggest Takeaways from Dramatic Rivalry Game
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In one of the most dramatic games of the season, the No. 24 Duke Blue Devils defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels by a score of 27-25. It took a 27-yard Ross Martin field goal with 2:22 remaining to seal the victory for the Blue Devils.

The question is, what should you take away from this ACC clash?

With the win, Duke moves to 10-2 and clinches a berth in the 2013 ACC Championship Game against the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles. North Carolina, meanwhile, is 6-6 and will now search for answers after its five-game winning streak was snapped.

Here's everything you need to know about what transpired and what it means.

 

Duke Can Grind

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There's nothing flashy about these Duke Blue Devils. There isn't an explosive vertical attack via the pass or a dynamic rushing attack. There isn't even an elite field general who can make plays on a consistent basis.

All this Duke team does is grind. And it's very good at it.

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Duke has scored fewer than 30 points in four of its 10 wins and ranks 55th or worse in both rushing and passing yards per game. Averaging 34.3 points scored is a strong number, but this isn't a team that will take part in many shootouts.

With a strong defense and a never-say-die attitude, Duke simply knows how to grind.

Duke ran the ball 46 times with five different players taking at least six carries from scrimmage. Star wide receiver Jamison Crowder showed out with two touchdown receptions and DeVon Edwards had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but that was the extent of the big gains.

It may not always be the most entertaining brand of football, but the Blue Devils can flat-out grind. That makes them a threat, if nothing else, in every game.

That includes the ACC Championship.

 

Marquise Williams is Special

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If there's one positive for the Tar Heels to take away from this game, it's that quarterback Marquise Williams is a special player. It's unclear whether or not he can serve as a full-time starter, but Williams has displayed mountains of promise during his brief stint.

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Against Duke, Williams showed how much of a dual-threat he truly is.

Williams was 17-of-36 for 222 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions but made up for his throwing deficiencies with his legs. Williams ran the ball 16 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns, marking his sixth multi-touchdown game in eight attempts.

Keep in mind, this is one week removed from a 409-yard and five-touchdown passing performance. Consistency as a passer must be developed, but the past two weeks have offered North Carolina insight into what Williams is capable of.

Clearly, it's something special.

UNC is now 4-2 in games in which Williams has at least 15 passing attempts and 4-1 when he throws it at least 20 times. He has 14 passing touchdowns to six interceptions and six rushing scores in limited action.

Bryn Renner is a tough player to lose, but Williams is a good enough player to fill the void.

 

David Cutcliffe Deserves Coach of the Year Respect

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David Cutcliffe is most commonly known as the man who coached Peyton Manning with the Tennessee Volunteers and Eli Manning with the Ole Miss Rebels. Since then, Cutcliffe has taken on one of the most challenging jobs in all of sports: reviving Duke football.

He's succeeded.

Cutcliffe has led Duke to an improbable record of 10-2 and a berth in the ACC Championship Game. Next up will be Florida State, but it's important to acknowledge how impressive a feat Cutcliffe has already pulled off.

Prior to 2013, Duke football had never won 10 games.

Duke will now look to improve upon its all-time record of 0-18 against Florida State.

Regardless of what transpires in the ACC Championship Game, Cutcliffe deserves top consideration for Coach of the Year. Duke hasn't won the ACC Championship since 1989 and has appeared in just one bowl game since 1995. That was in 2012 under Cutcliffe.

Duke is now guaranteed to reach its second consecutive bowl game. It's the first time in school history that the Blue Devils will play in back-to-back bowl games.

There are a number of different candidates, but Cutcliffe stacks up well against them all for Coach of the Year.

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