Friday, November 10, 2023

Battle for the Victory Bell Highlights Saturday's Gridiron Action

In what promises to be an electrifying clash, Duke and North Carolina are set to renew their age-old rivalry in the 110th meeting, with the iconic Victory Bell hanging in the balance. The game, scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m., will be broadcast live on ACC Network, amplifying the excitement for fans eagerly anticipating this gridiron showdown. The Tar Heels hold the historical edge in the series at 64-41-4, but recent encounters between the two teams have been nothing short of nail-biting. In the last meeting on October 15, 2022, fans witnessed a thrilling spectacle as Duke and North Carolina combined for a staggering 1,078 yards and seven lead changes. The Tar Heels ultimately secured a dramatic 38-35 victory with a go-ahead touchdown just 16 seconds before the final whistle, leaving Blue Devils fans stunned. Duke’s last triumph over North Carolina dates back to November 10, 2018, a memorable day when quarterback Daniel Jones set school records en route to a 42-35 victory. The Battle for the Victory Bell traces its roots back to 1948 when North Carolina claimed possession following a 20-0 win. The concept was born from the minds of the head cheerleaders from Duke and North Carolina, Loring Jones and Norman Sper, respectively. With Jones designing the model and Sper acquiring a bell from an old railroad train, Red Lewis, Duke’s business manager, found the funds to bring the idea to life.

Duke heads into this clash as the underdog, facing its fifth nationally-ranked opponent this season. The Blue Devils are 1-3 against Top-25 foes, with all three losses coming in hard-fought battles. However, they boast a potent offense, ranking sixth in the ACC with an average of 5.84 yards per play. The team’s resilience is evident, being one of only three schools nationally with all three losses against Top-25 opponents. Leading Duke’s defensive charge is redshirt sophomore linebacker Tre Freeman, who sits sixth in the ACC with 71 tackles this season. Freeman has been a force in recent games, compiling impressive statistics over the last five outings. Senior defensive end Ryan Smith, fresh off ACC Player of the Week honors, adds depth to the Blue Devils’ defensive prowess. On the flip side, North Carolina enters the contest with momentum, having secured a victory against Campbell after two midseason losses. The Tar Heels, under the leadership of Mack Brown, have dominated recent matchups, winning the last four encounters with Duke. They’ve been formidable as a ranked team, boasting a 57-24 record under Brown. Running back Hampton has been a standout for the Tar Heels, rushing for 100 yards in four consecutive games. Last week, he reached the 1,000-yard mark in just nine games, a feat not achieved since Giovani Bernard in 2012. The Tar Heels have been prolific in the red zone, scoring 37 times in 42 drives this season.

NC State vs. Wake Forest: In a clash that transcends time, NC State and Wake Forest are set to renew their historic rivalry in the 117th meeting between the two squads, making it the longest-continuous rivalry in the ACC and the second-longest in the FBS. With NC State holding a 68-42-6 advantage in their 132 years of football history, this matchup is steeped in tradition and carries significant weight for both teams. Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren, now the winningest coach in school history, leads a formidable squad into this contest. Linebacker Payton Wilson, a force on the field, leads the ACC in tackles and has been named the Butkus National LB of the Month. True freshman receiver KC Concepcion, a standout rookie, has made history by becoming the first true freshman in school history to achieve two 100+ yard games in a season and record six touchdown receptions. With a strong defense ranking in the top 20 nationally in multiple categories, the Wolfpack aims to extend its impressive record in Carter-Finley Stadium, having won 20 of the last 23 games at home. This matchup promises not only a battle for supremacy on the field but also a continuation of a rivalry that has withstood the test of time, dating back to the teams’ first encounter in 1895 when NC State was known as The North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. The Wolfpack and the Demon Deacons are set to create yet another chapter in the storied history of the ACC’s longest-continuous rivalry.

Delaware vs. Campbell: In a thrilling culmination of their 2023 home campaign, Campbell University’s Fighting Camels (4-5, 3-3 CAA) are gearing up to face the formidable No. 8 Delaware Blue Hens (7-2, 5-1 CAA) on Saturday, November 11, at Barker-Lane Stadium. As the season nears its end, the Fighting Camels will honor Military Appreciation Day and Senior Day, recognizing 25 seniors before their last home game. Despite a challenging matchup against FBS North Carolina last week, Campbell boasts the 25th-ranked scoring offense in FCS, averaging 31.2 points per game. Quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams, with a remarkable 73.4 percent completion rate, leads a dynamic offense that includes standout receivers Jalen Kelsey and VJ Wilkins. On the defensive front, CJ Tillman and Monchovia Gaffney spearhead the efforts with 82 and 58 tackles, respectively. Facing the Blue Hens for the first time, Campbell anticipates a fierce battle against a Delaware team coming off their lone CAA loss. Delaware’s quarterback Ryan O’Connor and rusher Marcus Yarns pose significant threats, setting the stage for an intense clash that will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of both teams’ seasons. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m., promising an exciting spectacle for fans at Barker-Lane Stadium.