On a night characterized largely by lopsided blowouts, most of our joy at watching competitive football was drawn from the ACC. Here, we give thanks. For more, check out our early Snaps, midday Snaps, our coverage of Kansas State-West Virginia, South Carolina-Florida, Oregon-Arizona State and our complete Top 25 review.
• Duke 33, North Carolina 30. Let us sing of the Blue Devils and postseason football! Your eyes do not deceive you. That was David Cutcliffe waving a can of spray paint in the postgame celebration crush. Those are the Blue Devils you see atop the ACC Coastal standings. The Victory Bell is awarded to Duke in the earliest game between Duke and North Carolina since 1943. It’s a new blue world.
For a little while there it looked as though the Blue Devils were set to repeat last week’s unfortunate pattern of events, when they jumped out ahead of Virginia Tech early only to see hopes of victory dashed. Duke held a 20-6 lead at halftime and a 23-9 lead at the end of the third quarter before surrendering three touchdowns to the Tar Heels while managing only a field goal on offense. That last UNC score was the real killer: A Bryn Renner pass to Erik Highsmith was fumbled after Highsmith took a hit from a Duke defender, only to see Duke whiff on the fumble recovery and Giovani Bernard scoop it up and run it in for the score. Sean Renfree saved the day late with a five-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder on fourth down that was caught so quickly it was hard to make out even on replay.
Renfree finished with 23 completions on 36 attempts for 275 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Gio recorded his third consecutive triple-digit rushing effort for the Tar Heels with 143 yards on 24 carries. Blue Devils triumvirate Josh Snead, Jela Duncan and Juwan Thompson combined for 237 rushing yards. Tonight marked Duke’s first win over UNC since 2003, its first home win versus the Tar Heels since 1998 and first bowl eligibility status achieved since 1994. [BOX | RECAP]