Duke said all the right things leading into Saturday’s game against rival North Carolina. The Blue Devils talked about putting the game against Miami behind them. About avoiding a hangover from the disappointment of that game.
Coach David Cutcliffe warned his team that the Tar Heels were the best team they’d seen all season, and noted that his group would need to play well in order to have a chance to win back the Victory Bell.
That didn’t happen.
North Carolina scored on its first series on an 89-yard touchdown pass and never took the foot off the gas en route to more than 700 yards of total offense and a total annihilation of Duke, 66-31.
Coming into the game the Duke defense ranked 11th in the country in scoring defense, ninth in total defense, and eighth in the nation in passing defense. Those numbers meant little to North Carolina quarterback Marquies Williams who completed 23-of-35 passes for 494 yards and four touchdowns as the Tar Heels put the game away in the first half, eventually taking a 38-10 halftime lead.
The second half saw Duke’s offense roll up a number of meaningless statistics including a total offense accumulation of 533 yards which included a season best 327 yards on the ground.
Junior running back Jela Duncan led Duke with 115 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
With the loss the Blue Devils drop to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke is also virtually eliminated from the Coastal Division Title race with games against Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and Virginia remaining.