UNC Football: Keys for Tar Heels to Upend Duke on the Road This Weekend

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 13: Bryn Renner #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels throws the ball prior to the game against the Miami Hurricanes on October 13, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

If Duke vs. North Carolina has been the most unpredictable college hoops rivalry over the last eight years, the rivalry between the two schools on the gridiron over that time has been the most one-sided in college football. 

It's been nearly a decade since the Duke Blue Devils last topped the North Carolina Tar Heels on the football field, and you can bet UNC will fight to keep it that way on the road in Week 8.

With kickoff right around the corner, here are the three biggest keys for a Tar Heels win this weekend in Durham.


Don't Look Ahead

The Tar Heels have won eight straight meetings with Duke. You have to go back to late November 2003 to find the last time the Blue Devils beat North Carolina. 

Therefore, it will be extremely easy for Larry Fedora's squad to look ahead to Week 9 when it will host rival North Carolina State in Chapel Hill. If the UNC players aren't focused solely on defeating Duke, they will be heading into their matchup with NC State with their heads down. 

It's certainly not easy to defeat a team nine straight times, especially when five of those wins come inside the other team's home stadium. 


Eliminate Penalties

Believe it or not, the Tar Heels committed 15 penalties for 140 yards last weekend in their win over Miami just two weeks after being flagged 15 times for 126 yards vs. Virginia Tech.

Thirty penalties in two games, are you kidding me?

North Carolina cannot afford to play sloppy football on the road against an underrated Duke football team. The Blue Devils have committed a combined 12 penalties over the last two weeks, and seem to be executing flawlessly compared to UNC.


Play Sound in the Secondary

Duke boasts the nation's 25th-ranked passing attack, led by senior quarterback Sean Renfree, and North Carolina must show up and defend it on Saturday if its to have any shot at getting a hard-fought road win.

Renfree has completed at least 20 passes in all six of the games he has played in this season, and has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns through the first half of the schedule. 

The Blue Devils are racking up more than 290 yards through the air on average per week in 2012. UNC held the Miami Hurricanes to just 235 passing yards a week ago, and winded up winning 18-14. The Tar Heels' secondary will need to be sound once again this weekend if they want to run their season-winning streak to five in a row.


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