This week, Duke can win its 10th game of the season and lock up a spot in the ACC title game by beating North Carolina. That's not a sentence you will read very often, so just take a moment and let that baby sink in.
The Blue Devils have won seven straight overall, including a victory at Virginia Tech and a multi-score beating of Miami at home. North Carolina comes in on a five-game winning streak, turning around a season that appeared on the verge of becoming a disaster when the Tar Heels were 1-5. The schedule softened considerably over the back half for the Heels, and they've taken advantage.
The Blue Devils have been better offensively in 2013, but it's been their improvement on the defensive side that's allowed them to reach this spot. They lost five in a row to finish 2012 in no small part because they allowed at least 42 points in all five contests. Only four opponents have managed 30 points or more against Duke this year. UNC will be aiming to change that.
Rankings and records: Duke checks in at 9-2 (5-2), in sole possession of first in the Coastal Division. The Blue Devils are ranked 24th in both major polls. UNC is 6-5 (4-3) and stuck in a three-way tie for third in the division. North Carolina owns a 58-36-5 all-time record against the Blue Devils.
Vegas: UNC opened as a 5.5-point favorite.
Weather: A high in the upper 40s is expected in Chapel Hill. There's no rain in the forecast.
Three names to know
Marquise Williams -- Williams stepped into the starting QB spot on a permanent basis when Bryn Renner was lost for the season because of injury. He is acquitting himself well for a guy who came into the year with little experience, and his ability to run makes UNC's offense a bit more difficult to defend.
Jamison Crowder -- He has 1,077 receiving yards, a total that ranks second in the league behind Sammy Watkins. He's also Duke's leading receiver by a wide margin -- no other player has more than 402 receiving yards this season.
Eric Ebron -- Aside from Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, there might not be a better tight end in the country. Ebron leads the Heels in receiving yards (774) and receptions (50). The junior will be playing his last home game since he's chosen to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
Two things at stake
UNC is out of the running in the Coastal, but it can potentially hand the division to Virginia Tech or Miami by beating the Blue Devils. The Heels can also guarantee a winning season with a victory, and perhaps improve their bowl stock a bit.
Duke's 10th win would not only punch the team's ticket to Charlotte for the ACC title game, it would also equal the number of victories the program accumulated in the eight years prior to David Cutcliffe's arrival in Durham. The Blue Devils already have one record in hand since they're going bowling in back-to-back years for the first time ever, but now they're thinking bigger. They might (and probably will) end up getting demolished by Florida State in the conference championship game, but simply getting there would be an incredible accomplishment for a program that had been dead for so long.
How to witness
TV: ESPN2, noon ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN
For additional coverage, be sure to visit Tar Heel Blog.