Week 11

Duke 28, North Carolina 27: What Does It All Mean?

Duke beats North Carolina 28-27, what does it all mean?

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Duke 28, North Carolina 27: What Does It All Mean?

Virginia Tech, it’s your Coastal Division. With Duke’s victory over North Carolina, all the Hokies now have to do is win one of their final two ACC games – playing Georgia Tech and Virginia around a road game at Notre Dame – to play, most likely, Clemson, for the ACC title. It was going to take a lot of work for UNC to get to the title game, but now it’ll take a miracle.

Duke did what it needed to do to beat a team like North Carolina. It kept the Tar Heel offense off the field with long drives – converting 10-of-17 third down chances and keeping the ball for almost 37 minutes – and it didn’t make the big mistakes. Duke came up with the two big interceptions – including the game-sealer in the final moments – and the offense didn’t turn the ball over. This all happened because …

Daniel Jones was terrific. Shaun Wilson ran for a team-high 1-7 yards and a score, and Jones ran for a slippery 94 yards and two scores, while throwing for 240 yards and a touchdown. He was able to outplay Trubisky, the ground game overall was able to come up with manageable third down opportunities, and the defense was able to hold on in the second half.

North Carolina is probably going to be where it was going to be, anyway. Even if the Tar Heels were able to win out, it was going to take something special to take the Coastal. They were almost certainly going to be fourth in the bowl pecking order behind Clemson, Louisville, and Virginia Tech, in some order. That’s not going to change, unless the Tar Heels collapse.

Never dismiss the importance of a rivalry game. This was Duke’s first ACC win of the season, and now there’s a distant hope to get to a bowl with just one more win. The Blue Devils can get there by winning both road games at Pitt and Miami, but because they’ll have the highest APR – Academic Progress Rate – of anyone, going 5-7 will almost certainly mean a bowl game. But even if that doesn’t happen, at the very least, they’ll have this win.