Under the Wallace Wade Stadium lights on Saturday night, the Duke football team hosts UNC (5-1, 2-0 ACC) as the Blue Devils (4-2, 1-1 ACC) try to rekindle their winning ways under first-year head coach Mike Elko following an overtime loss at Georgia Tech last week.
As has been the case every year in the rivalry since 1948, the Victory Bell is at stake. The Tar Heels possess it. And it hasn't displayed a Blue Devil paint job since a third straight win over UNC in 2018, marking Duke's only such streak over its nearby foe since Steve Spurrier's three-year reign in Durham (1987-89).
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Stream: fuboTV (start your free trial)
At the time of this article's publishing, SI Sportsbook lists the Blue Devils as seven-point underdogs against the Tar Heels. And the over/under total sits at 68 points.
If the Blue Devils are to slow down the high-powered offense of potential Heisman candidate Drake Maye & Co., they'll probably need to win the turnover battle, which they did in their first five games. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to gobble up the clock with their balanced attack when they have the ball, disrupting the Tar Heels' rhythm.
Duke boasts a 66-10 advantage over its opponents in first-quarter action this season, largely thanks to the oh-so-accurate throws of sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard early on in most contests. A hot start would go a long way in springing an upset over UNC.
Meanwhile, Duke football fans should cross their fingers that there's something to UNC's seven-game losing streak in night games on the road.
But Mack Brown, the Tar Heel head coach from 1988 to 1997 who resumed that position in 2019, has never lost to a group of Blue Devils that Steve Spurrier didn't coach.
UNC is full of confidence right now, standing alone atop the ACC Coastal Division as its only team without a loss in conference play and looking to start 6-1 for only the second time since the last year of Mack Brown's first stint in Chapel Hill.
The Victory Bell will surely ring loud when all is said and done on Saturday night. However, the forecast here is that the Tar Heels will still be the ones ringing it in front of what figures to be a relatively UNC-heavy packed crowd.
PREDICTION: UNC 49, Duke 31
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