College Football preview: UNC at Duke
DURHAM ó This year Greg Akinbiyi wants to actually touch the Victory Bell after the Duke-North Carolina rivalry game.
The Duke defensive end took off on a sprint toward the trophy last year immediately after the Blue Devils’ game-winning field goal attempt took flight. When the kick sailed wide left, Akinbiyi was forced to pull up a few tantalizing yards short.
“I almost had my hands on it,” he said.
Nobody on the Blue Devils’ team has come that close to grabbing the trophy that goes annually to the North Carolina-Duke winner. The Tar Heels have claimed it in 17 of the past 18 years, and for four straight years the bell has been painted in North Carolina’s shade of blue.
Then again, nothing would make Duke’s season quite like claiming the Victory Bell and knocking the bowl-bound Tar Heels down a peg in the ACC’s postseason pecking order.
“As far as I’m concerned, the previous 11 games of this season didn’t happen,” Duke lineman Fred Roland said. “This is like a one-week season for me.”
The Blue Devils (4-7, 1-6) have won as many games this year as they did from 2004-07, yet they’re only ACC team that knows its season will end in November after dropping four straight to temper their 4-3 start.
Meanwhile, when North Carolina makes the 8-mile trip north to Durham, the Tar Heels (7-4, 3-4) know they’re pretty much assured of their first bowl berth since 2005. They’re out to end the two-game slump that eliminated them from the Coastal Division race.