Talk about digging a hole for myself! I’ve always prided myself on my prognostication skills, winning many contests and pools over the years. Going into this week I am an embarrassingly 7 games out as Bob Green has taken a significant lead on the pack. This weeks guest picker is John Roth who is the man behind the scenes for the Duke Radio and Coach Cutcliffe shows. Roth is also the author of the Encyclopedia of Duke Basketball, a fabulous book that is a must for reference, so check it out sometime! John will try and close the 4 game deficit for the guest pickers and as always we pick the nation’s ten toughest or closest match ups each week.
|1. Bob Green|
|2. Andrew Slater (-3)|
|3. Guest (-4)|
|4. Patrick Cacchio (-5)|
|5. Mark Watson (-7)|
Mark Watson – The key to the game for Duke on Saturday is to simply be opportunistic. Duke needs to win the battle of turnovers and succeed in the red zone. I don’t think you will see the Devils attempt many field goals unless it’s a chip shot, so look for Duke to try and control field position throughout the day. This is a good opportunity for the Blue Devils to gain another win on Homecoming. Look for the defense to make a big play. If Duke can keep their collective focus they’ll come out with a much needed win for the program. The real question is can they close on a team if they get the lead. Duke 34, Tulane 20.
Bob Green - Sean Renfree will pick up right where he left off last weekend by connecting on short passes and throwing the ball down the field. With Duke still shorthanded at running back, the Blue Devils offense will utilize the short pass in lieu of a traditional running game to move the chains and sustain drives. I’ll be looking for Renfree to complete passes to six different Blue Devils with two receivers recording eight or more catches against the Green Wave. Duke 35, Tulane 21.
Patrick Cacchio - The Blue Devils are 10 points favorites for Homecoming this year, but this game is likely to be closer than that. The Green Wave are a balanced and talented football team that will challenge Duke in all phases of the game. Duke will have to put together another dominant offensive effort to emerge victorious Saturday, and Sean Renfree seems up to the task. Tulane will put up some points on the Duke defense, but will be unable to keep up with the potent Blue Devil passing game. Duke 35, Tulane 31.
Andrew Slater -Both programs come in after enervating road wins, the Blue Devils will look to sustain that winning momentum on Homecoming weekend. Both programs feature pass happy offenses, with quarterbacks that have been successful at spreading the wealth amongst their receiving corps. For Duke, they need to keep the ball away from their former linebacker Trent Mackey, who led the Green Wave with 124 tackles last season, and DB/PR Derrick Strozier, who already has two interceptions on the young season. The Duke defense stood strong last week on the road against Boston College, pitching a shutout in the second half. They’ll need to shut down an offense averaging 33 points per game this season. Tulane appears to have an edge in special teams. Cairo Santos has made 15 of 20 career field goals and 45 of 46 PATs, while their punter, Jonathan Ginsburgh, is sixteenth in the country in punting average, including three kicks of more than fifty yards and three punts that landed within their opponents’ twenty yard line. Duke 28, Tulane 24.
John Roth- Duke’s defense has been better than expected so far and got a confidence boost from pitching a second-half shutout last week, forcing BC to punt on every possession before the final drive. The defense needs to continue its improvement this week against a Tulane team that has averaged 48 points per game in its two wins. With its physical line and big QB, Tulane has scored on 10 of 12 trips to the red zone, 8 TDs vs. 2 FGs. The guess here is that Duke’s D buckles down in the red zone, with Tulane getting its 16 points on 3 FGs and one TD. Offensively Duke has piled up some passing yardage and last week controlled the ball for 20 minutes in the second half, but it still has not been effective enough in finishing possessions with points. The absence of a field goal game obviously hasn’t helped. Look for the Blue Devils to take another incremental step forward offensively with four TDs this week in evening their record at 2-2. Duke 28, Tulane 16.