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Third and Goal: Duke looks to take care of business against N.C. Central

<p>Michael Carter II is the second cornerback in Duke's last two games to leave the game with injuries.</p>

Michael Carter II is the second cornerback in Duke's last two games to leave the game with injuries.

On the verge of their first AP Top 25 appearance since 2015, Duke sits at 3-0 as they welcome North Carolina Central to Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday. This marks the sixth time in the last seven years that the Blue Devils have played the Eagles, with Duke winning all five previous matchups. Here are three keys to Saturday’s contest:

Stay Healthy

If there’s been one downside through the first quarter of the 2018 regular season, it is the amount of injuries that Duke has suffered. Even more players went down in last week’s win over Baylor, with Michael Carter II and Edgar Cerenord exiting the game. Duke shouldn’t need a full force to take down NC Central though, so look for head coach David Cutcliffe to rest those players for the game against No. 13 Virginia Tech.The Blue Devils’ average margin of victory over the Eagles is 46.6 points, meaning the teams can use backups to get them through the week.

Continue to Grow Chemistry on Offense

Quentin Harris quickly answered his doubters by leading the Blue Devils to 40 points against Baylor. However, there were times where the offense faltered, and Harris should see this week as a chance to keep developing the offense. He had struggles against the Bears last week when attempting short throws, as well as finding his running backs in the pass game, who combined for zero receptions.The Blue Devils need to find a way to start moving the ball using all three levels of the field under Harris.

Start Strong

Upsets rarely happen on miraculous comebacks by the underdog, rather occurring most often when the favorite gets in a hole early. If by any miracle N.C. Central pulls out a win on Saturday, it will be because Duke fails to execute early. Not to mention that an early lead for the the Blue Devils will help get the reserves in quicker, which will be valuable rest heading into the matchup against Virginia Tech next week that has already had a pseudo bye week after Hurricane Florence cancelled their game last week. Forced turnovers and finishing drives in the red zone should be the trick to pulling away for Duke.