Tobacco Road Rivals Clash in Durham: North Carolina Tar Heels at Duke Blue Devils

North Carolina Tar Heels at Duke Blue Devils
Wallace Wade Stadium – Durham, North Carolina

Thursday, November 20, 2014, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Duke -7 (-106)
Current Line: Duke -6
Opening Total: 66 1/2
Current Total: 66 1/2
Opening Money Line: Duke -240 / UNC +200
Current Money Line: Duke -230 / UNC +190

Duke looks for a much needed win against arch-rival North Carolina Thursday.
Duke looks for a much needed win against arch-rival North Carolina Thursday.

The 8-2 Duke Blue Devils suffered a setback in their last game in their quest for a second straight trip to the ACC Championship game. Duke lost at home to Virginia Tech 17-16 to fall to 4-2 in the ACC Coastal Division behind 6-2 Georgia Tech. However, since Georgia Tech has already completed their conference slate, Duke controls their own destiny because the Blue Devils beat the Yellow Jackets earlier in the season. Duke needs home wins against in-state rivals North Carolina and Wake Forest to clinch the division title. Duke hosts the rival North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday. North Carolina is 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Coastal. The Tar Heels need at least one more win against either Duke or NC State to become bowl eligible.

North Carolina leads the series against Duke 58-38-4. The Blue Devils have won 2 straight games in the series including 27-25 last season in Chapel Hill. Before the Duke winning streak, UNC had won 21 of the 22 previous  meetings. This series dates back to 1888 and since 1948 the two teams have played for the Victory Bell.

North Carolina is coached by Larry Fedora. The Tar Heels have won 3 of their last 4 games after a 4 game losing streak. UNC has home wins over Liberty 56-29, San Diego State 31-27, Georgia Tech 48-43 and last week against Pitt 40-35, plus a road win at Virginia 28-27. The Tar Heels have road losses at East Carolina 70-41, Clemson 50-35, Notre Dame 50-43, and Miami-(FL) 47-20, along with a home loss to Virginia Tech 34-17. UNC is 4-6 ATS and the total is 5-4 this season. The Tar Heels were 2 point favorites against Pitt and the total was 67.

Duke is coached by David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils have losses at Miami 22-10 and Virginia Tech last week. The loss to Virginia Tech snapped a 4 game winning streak for Duke. Duke has home wins over Elon 52-13, Kansas 41-3, Tulane 47-13, and Virginia 20-13, along with road wins over Troy 34-17, Georgia Tech 31-25, Pittsburgh 51-48 in double overtime, and Syracuse 27-10. The Blue Devils are 6-3-1 ATS and the total is 2-7 this season. Duke was a 3.5 point favorite against Virginia Tech and the total was 47.

North Carolina is being outscored 41-36 this season. The Tar Heels are #24 in scoring but #125 in points allowed out of 128 FBS teams. UNC is averaging 431 yards per game on offense including 290 passing and 141 rushing. The Tar Heels are #21 in passing and #94 in rushing nationally. On defense, UNC is allowing 512 yards per game including 283 passing and 229 rushing. The Tar Heels are #115 or worse in all three categories.  North Carolina is +4 in turnovers with 20 takeaways. The Tar Heels average 62 penalty yards per game and opponents average 51. North Carolina is 76/174 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 80/157. The Tar Heels have 17 sacks and have allowed 21 this season. North Carolina is 36/39 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns and opponents are 37/42 with 30 touchdowns. The Tar Heels have four defensive touchdowns and allowed three this season.

UNC quarterback Marquise Williams has completed 63.2% of his passes for 2,502 yards with 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and also has 141 carries for 623 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Back-up Mitch Trubisky has played in almost every game and has thrown for 314 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and also has 41 rushing yards. Receivers Ryan Switzer and Quinshad Davis, along with punter Tommy Hibbard have all thrown touchdown passes.

Running back T.J. Logan has 82 carries for 344 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 20 catches for 101 yards. Elijah Hood has 56 carries for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Romar Morris has 44 carries for 162 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is eligible to return from a suspension but is listed as questionable. Running back Khris Francis and fullback Conner Gonet are both out for the season.

Receiver Mack Hollins has 32 catches for 605 yards and 7 touchdowns. Switzer has 47 catches for 568 yards and 4 touchdowns. Davis has 29 catches for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns. Bug Howard has 30 catches for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns. T.J. Thorpe has 14 catches for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Duke is outscoring teams 33-18 this season. The Blue Devils are #46 in scoring and #11 in points allowed nationally. Duke is averaging 396 yards per game on offense including 202 passing and 194 rushing yards. On defense, the Blue Devils are allowing 390 yards per game including 192 passing and 198 rushing yards. Duke is #21 in pass defense and #98 in rush defense. The Blue Devils are +7 in turnovers in 16 takeaways. Duke averages 40 penalty yards per game and opponents average 66 yards per game. The Blue Devils are 62/163 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 56/170. Duke has forced 21 sacks and allowed 8 this season. The Blue Devils are 38/43 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns and opponents are 32/35 with 20 touchdowns. Duke has 2 defensive and 2 special teams touchdowns.

Duke quarterback Anthony Boone has completed 56.7% of his passes for 1,970 yards with 14 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, and also has 63 carries for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns. Back-up quarterback Thomas Sirk has thrown 2 touchdowns and rushed for 7 more. Running back Shaun Wilson has 64 carries for 553 yards with 4 touchdowns, plus 17 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Shaquille Powell has 85 catches for 410 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 14 catches for 88 yards. Josh Snead has 71 carries for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 9 catches. Receiver Jamison Crowder has 64 catches for 767 yards with 4 touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown. Isaac Blakeney has 34 catches for 397 yards and 5 touchdowns. Max McCaffrey has 30 catches for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns.

North Carolina is 5-1 ATS in Thursday games, 4-1 overall and on grass, 7-2 after a cover, 6-2 after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 5-2 in November, 5-11 in road games, 2-5 after gaining 450 yards or more, 5-13 against teams with winning home records, 3-9 after rushing for over 200 yards, 1-4 after a straight up win and after allowing 450 yards or more. The over is 4-1 in the last 5 game sin Durham in this series.

Duke is 5-0 ATS after failing to cover, 4-0 after scoring less than 20 points, 6-1 at home and in November, 4-1 in ACC games, 11-3-1 on grass, and 15-5-1 overall. The home team has covered 4 of the last 5 games in this series.

North Carolina has to get into shootouts because their defense is atrocious and they have to hope the offense can outscore the other teams. Duke has a good defense and I think they can slow down the Tar Heels enough to pull out the win.

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