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Duke v North Carolina

by Sharon Thorsland

Well, it was quite a game last week for North Carolina. The Tar Heels (8-2) let arch rival Duke hang around and barely pulled off a double overtime victory in Chapel Hill. The competition gets even tougher this weekend with a trip to Death Valley to take a resurgent Clemson team. The Tigers (6-4) are having an uncharacteristically mediocre season but are coming off back to back wins over Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, and will provide a stiff test for the Tar Heels. Kick-off is set for 3:30 on WBT.

It’s been a disappointing season for Clemson, who usually is in the national championship conversation. The Tigers lost four ACC games to fall out of contention, though, largely because of a not so great offense. Quarterback Cade Klubnik has been inconsistent, but don’t forget, he lit up the Tar Heels in the ACC Championship game last season. He’s thrown for 2261 yards and 18 touchdowns, four of them going to leading receiver Tyler Brown. But the Tigers like to run the ball first, and they’ve got a dynamic 1-2 punch in Will Shipley and Phil Mafa. The pair has combined for over 1300 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and both are also threats at receiver. The Tar Heels have gone backwards defensively in recent weeks, allowing over 38 points a contest in their last four ACC games, and they rank 79th in the country against the run. If Shipley and Mafa get rolling early, that could spell trouble for UNC.

Clemson has had no such problems on defense. The Tigers rank 10th in the nation in total defense, and are second the ACC in passing defense and have 12 interceptions, four of them returned for touchdowns. Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. is a force, he leads the Tigers in tackles and has a team high 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The Tigers have a deep secondary but will be challenged by Drake Maye, as UNC’s star quarterback leads the ACC and is third in the nation averaging over 314 passing yards per game. Clemson hasn’t been as efficient in stopping the run and now will be tasked with trying to slow down Tar Heels standout Omarion Hampton, who ranks second in the country with 1,236 rushing yards and is averaging six yards per carry.