CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Two teams looking to rebound from crushing defeats match up Saturday when Duke makes the short trip to Chapel Hill to take on rival North Carolina for an ACC contest in which the loser is all but eliminated from the race for the Coastal Division crown. Duke suffered a 48-14 setback at Virginia and the Tar Heels finally succumbed in the sixth overtime 43-41 at Virginia Tech last week in the longest game in league history.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, RSN. LINE: North Carolina -3.5
North Carolina freshman quarterback Sam Howell threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns in the loss, but the Tar Heels managed just 10 points in overtime and missed a pair of field goals that could have won the game. "It hurts when you have to go in and talk to your team when they fought really hard," North Carolina coach Mack Brown, who can become the team's all-time leader in wins with his 73rd on Saturday, told reporters. "There is nothing really that you can say to them because losing really stinks. … When you lose, you have to take it and learn from it. That's what we will do." The Blue Devils turned the ball over five times to lose their second in three games last Saturday and hopes to find the form that helped them rout Virginia Tech 45-10 on the road in their ACC opener last month. "You've got to lick your wounds and get back to work," Duke's senior quarterback Quentin Harris told reporters after the loss. "I don't think it damaged anybody's pride on our team. I think we're a very together unit, which is a great thing to have as a team. I know we'll take this and learn in stride."
ABOUT DUKE (4-3, 2-2 ACC)
Harris was limited to a season-low 88 yards passing last week and threw two interceptions, but owns 12 touchdown passes this season while leading the team in rushing with 417 yards and five scores. Junior running back Deon Jackson has 519 yards from scrimmage (396 on the ground with five TDs) and freshman receiver Jalon Calhoun is Harris' top target with 31 receptions for 257 yards and three scores. Coach David Cutcliffe told reporters Virginia got way too many yards after first contact last week and the Blue Devils hope for a sharper effort defensively, led by senior linebacker Koby Quansah (team-high 66 tackles).
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (3-4, 2-2)
Sophomore running back Javonte Williams was held to 37 yards on the ground last week after going for career-high 144 in the previous contest against Georgia Tech, but is sixth in the league with 529. Howell boasts 20 touchdown passes overall and junior Dazz Newsome (38 catches, 479 yards) along with sophomore Dyami Brown (26, 477) have hauled in five apiece while junior Beau Corrales (23, 261) has four. Chazz Surratt ranked fifth in the ACC with 63 tackles and fellow junior linebacker Tomon Fox has five sacks to lead the Tar Heels defense, which is 12th out of 14 teams in the league in rushing yards against per game (174.1).
1. Duke junior DE Victor Dimukeje has recorded all of his 6.5 sacks in the last three contests.
2. North Carolina is 10-for-16 on field goals this season and Duke's junior K AJ Reed has made all eight of his attempts.
3. The Tar Heels leads the all-time series 60-41-4, but the Blue Devils have won three in a row after a 42-35 triumph last year.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 31, Duke 28