Neither the Duke football team nor its UNC football counterpart appears in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll or the AP Top 25, except among "others receiving votes." The Blue Devils received one vote from the coaches and zero from AP voters, and the Tar Heels racked up nine and five votes, respectively.
Still, Duke (4-1, 1-0 ACC) and UNC (4-1, 1-0 ACC) won their conference openers in impressive fashion on Saturday and are now in a tie atop the ACC Coastal Division standings.
After suffering a 48-0 loss at Virginia last season, the Blue Devils shined this go-round at home, beating the Cavaliers, 38-17 (Blue Devil Country, now 5-0 in forecasting Duke wins and losses this season, predicted 31-17). Duke dominated by racking up a season-high 242 rushing yards and capitalizing on Virginia's untimely penalties early.
Meanwhile, the Tar Heels soundly defeated Virginia Tech (2-3, 1-1 ACC), 41-10, behind star quarterback Drake Maye's 363 yards in the air, three passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns.
While the Blue Devils and Tar Heels helped themselves with potential tiebreakers by defeating teams in their division to jump out to their oh-so-early lead in the standings, it's only fair to mention one of the seven teams in the Coastal Division, Miami (2-2, 0-0 ACC), has yet to play its first ACC game.
Even so, it marks the first time since 2019 that both rival programs started 1-0 in ACC play. That's not to mention Duke notched its first victory against a conference foe in its past 14 tries, a streak dating back to a road win over Syracuse on Oct. 10, 2020.
The Hurricanes and Tar Heels square off in Miami at 4:00 p.m. ET Saturday. At the same time, the Blue Devils will be in Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-1 ACC).
Then Duke hosts UNC on Oct. 15 (time to be announced).
If the Blue Devils and Tar Heels win in Week 6, it's safe to say the winner of that Week 7 matchup would at least be knocking on the door in the polls. And with a 3-0 ACC record, consisting only of wins against division opponents, that team might look like a legit frontrunner to play in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
Of course, such talk is premature. Even so, it's a start.
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