2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 13, Duke at North Carolina
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Nov. 26 at North Carolina 37 … Duke 21
CFN Analysis: Duke is still Duke, but a rivalry win is always a nice cure for an ugly slide. The Tar Heels lost four of their last five before the win, and now a decent bowl bid is solidified and the season ends on a positive note. … Dwight Jones might have been the star with ten catches for 101 yards and three scores, but Giovani Bernard was the one who made everything go with his 165 yards and a score on a workmanlike 30 carries. … Quinton Coples might not have come up with the huge season expected of him, but he rolled through the Blue Devils with six tackles and two sacks. He was unblockable in stretches.
Even though the team was competitive, it still finished the year with seven straight losses. The biggest problem? A secondary that couldn’t come up with enough stops. The UNC passing game did whatever it wanted. … The Blue Devil run defense wasn’t exactly a rock, either. … Sean Renfree was doing a good job, completing 13-of-20 passes for 153 yards and two scores with a pick, but the more mobile Anthony Boone threw more of a scare into the UNC defense with 41 yards on just seven carries while completing 12-of-20 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown with a pick. … Matt Daniels didn’t make too many impact plays, but he finished with 18 tackles with a half a tackle for loss.
(AP) CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Dwight Jones had three touchdown catches while redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard ran for a season-high 165 yards and a score to help North Carolina beat Duke 37-21 on Saturday.
Jones finished with 10 catches for 101 yards to set a school single-season record for receptions, while Bernard had a season-high 30 carries and finished with 222 total yards to lead the Tar Heels (7-5, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference). Bryn Renner also threw for 274 yards and tied a school single-season record for TD passes, helping UNC beat the Blue Devils (3-9, 1-7) for the eighth straight year.
North Carolina also capitalized on four turnovers, getting a pair of field goals and Jones' 8-yard scoring catch midway through the fourth quarter following those miscues.
Sean Renfree threw a pair of touchdown passes for Duke, though coach David Cutcliffe went with mobile backup Anthony Boone for most of the second half.
Boone led a third-quarter touchdown drive that ended with his 11-yard pass to Donovan Varner and cut North Carolina's lead to 23-21 late in the third. But the Tar Heels answered when Renner found Jones for an 18-yard TD grab -- Jones hauled it in with his left hand -- that again made it a two-possession game. Then, after Boone threw an interception to end a drive that had crossed midfield, Renner directed a 91-yard drive that took 6 1/2 minutes off the clock before he found Jones for the 8-yard score that made it 37-21 with 8:17 left.
With the win, North Carolina can look forward to a likely bowl game and a chance to match its 8-5 record of each of the previous three seasons, though 16 of those wins were later vacated due to NCAA penalties. That NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct led to the firing of coach Butch Davis just before training camp and the promotion of defensive coordinator Everett Withers to interim coach.
Withers wouldn't talk in recent days about whether this would be his final game in Kenan Stadium, saying only that he believed he was a candidate to be the permanent head coach. Regardless of his future, he at least extended the Tar Heels' recent dominance against the Blue Devils and kept the Victory Bell in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina had won 20 of 21 meetings and managed a 100-yard rusher in six of the last seven meetings, an indication of its physical edge in the rivalry. This one fit right in, with Bernard cracking the 100-yard mark in the first half and bursting up the middle for a 48-yard sprint to the end zone early in the second quarter.
Renfree found Juwan Thompson for a 70-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly called route out of the backfield in the first quarter, then hit Jamison Crowder for a 45-yard score late in the first half while taking a late hit from Zach Brown that cut UNC's lead to 20-14 at halftime. But Duke went three-and-out on the first drive of the second half and Renfree fumbled on a blindside sack to end the second drive, prompting Cutcliffe to switch to Boone and leave Renfree watching from the sideline.
Duke closed the year with seven straight losses after a 3-2 start. Three of the previous six losses had been by a touchdown or less.
Duke (3-8) at North Carolina (6-5) Nov. 26, 3:30, RSN
Here’s The Deal … Duke and North Carolina play for the Victory Bell each November. The Blue Devils, losers of 20 of the last 21 games in the series, will be happy to simply secure some respect as a football program. It’s been another disappointing campaign in Durham, David Cutcliffe’s fourth as the head coach. Duke has dropped six in-a-row since getting off to a favorable 3-2 start, ensuring a bowl-free postseason for the 17th consecutive year.
While the Tar Heels will be bowling, they’ve had their own problems in the second half of 2011. After peaking at 5-1 in the middle of October, Carolina has won just a single game, an Oct. 29 rout of Wake Forest. It’s been a transitional year for the scandal-ridden program, which has employed Everett Withers on an interim basis since former head coach Butch Davis was let go on July 27. There’s a very good chance that the Heels will have decided on a permanent replacement by the time the team takes the field for its bowl game.
Why Duke Might Win: QB Sean Renfree is coming off his best game of the year, carving up a credible Georgia Tech secondary for 250 yards and four touchdowns. The junior will look to build on that performance versus a North Carolina D whose weakest link is in the defensive backfield. The Blue Devils boast an experienced and skilled set of receivers that includes Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner and TE Cooper Helfet.
The embattled Duke defense might catch a break if Tar Heels 1,000-yard rusher Giovani Bernard is unable to dress. The sensational redshirt freshman is questionable after suffering a concussion in last week’s loss to Virginia Tech.
Why North Carolina Might Win: Even if Bernard is a scratch, the Tar Heels will have enough weapons to exploit a hapless Blue Devils defense giving up more than 30 points a game. Backup RB Ryan Houston is a powerful inside runner, with a ton of experience with the program. And sophomore Bryn Renner now has almost a full season of starting experience behind him.
In Erik Highsmith and 6-4, 225-pound Dwight Jones, he has access to a pair of terrific receivers who can create mismatches with the Duke defensive backs. Renfree can be potent, but not when opposing defenders are in his face. The Carolina front seven, dotted with the likes of DE Quinton Coples and linebackers Zach Brown and Kevin Reddick, rates a significant edge over the Duke O-line.
What To Watch Out For: One of the unheralded stars up front for the Heels has been DT Sylvester Williams, a first-year transfer out of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. The 6-3, 315-pounder displays terrific get-off and use of his hands, leading the team’s linemen with 47 tackles, six of which occurred behind the line. He’s been operating in the shadows of Coples and Tydreke Powell, but that’ll change next year, when No. 92 is a senior getting looks from NFL scouts.
What Will Happen: Bernard will be missed if he’s unavailable , but not so much with Duke playing defense. North Carolina will find a way keep the sticks moving, and the points compiling. It can use Houston as a battering ram, or Renner as an accurate distributor to his easy-to-find targets.
Although the Tar Heels have owned the Victory Bell for the better part of two decades, owning Duke never gets old in these parts. The Tar Heels will control the line of scrimmage this weekend, making life easier for the skill players on offense and defense.
CFN Prediction: North Carolina 31 … Duke 16
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