Time to move on in our look at recent streaks in some of the biggest ACC rivalries.
The series: North Carolina leads 58-38-4.
Last meeting: Nov. 30, 2013 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 to go to give the Blue Devils a 27-25 victory and a spot in their first ever ACC championship game. North Carolina had a shot to get into field-goal range to win the game, but Marquise Williams threw an interception at midfield to end the rally. Duke players carried coach David Cutcliffe off the field on their shoulders in celebration.
The streak: Duke has won two straight. The last time the Blue Devils won more than two in a row in the series was when they took three straight between 1987-89. The longest Duke winning streak in the series is seven straight, between 1950-56.
The skinny: Duke? Streaking? Practically unheard of over the last 20 years. Before going on this two-game win streak, Duke dropped 21 of 22 to its hated rivals (two North Carolina victories were later vacated because of NCAA sanctions). Even when Duke was good in 1994, it could not beat the Tar Heels. But the truth is, most of this era of UNC dominance coincided with the deep decline of the Duke football program. Between 1990-2011, Duke posted one winning season (the aforementioned 1994) and became an ACC doormat. In the eight seasons before Cutcliffe took over the program, Duke won more than two games just once and posted three winless seasons.
But given all the progress we have seen Duke make in the last two years, it is hard to envision going back to those bleak days. Cutcliffe has molded the program into a Coastal Division champion, and has his sights set even higher. He has recruited athletes all over the field, and he also has radically improved the players and depth on the offensive and defensive lines. Duke has ceded its spot as perennial ACC pushover, renewing the competitiveness in the rivalry.
Because North Carolina is not going anywhere, either. The Tar Heels are building under third-year coach Larry Fedora and have talent all over the field -- at the skill positions, in particular. Despite losing to Duke to close out the regular season, this team overcame a 1-5 start to make a bowl game -- and then dismantled Cincinnati in said bowl game. Confidence is soaring, and so is the belief that the Tar Heels have what it takes to make their first ACC championship game in 2014.
The prediction: The two are set to play Thursday night football Nov. 20 in Durham, N.C., with the expectation that the Coastal Division title will be up for grabs. The feeling this spring is that Duke and North Carolina have a chance to be the two best teams in the Coastal Division based on the players returning. At this point, the game remains a toss-up, so I reserve the right to change my pick come November. For now, I am leaning toward Duke based on its recent success and home-field advantage.