Duke in 2012: 2-1, beat NCCU 54-17
Memphis in 2012: 0-3, lost to MTSU 30-48
PROBABLE – LB Kyler Brown (upper body), S Jordon Byas (leg), S Walt Canty (shoulder), WR Jamison Crowder (upper body)
QUESTIONABLE – OG Lucas Patrick (ankle)
OUT – CB Jared Boyd (leg), LB Kelby Brown (leg), NG Jamal Bruce (foot), S August Campbell (upper body), TE Braxton Deaver (leg), TE Jack Farrell (leg), LB Brendan Fowler (upper body), DE Justin Foxx (hand)
OUT FOR SEASON – WR Blair Holliday, DE Allen Jackson (shoulder), S Corbin McCarthy, S Taylor Sowell (leg)
QUESTIONABLE – WR Kevin Wright (knee), TE Justin Henderson (foot)
OUT – RB Jerrell Rhodes (personal)
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
Score points, lots of them. The Tigers are allowing nearly 500 yards of total offense to opponents this year, and allowed 48 points to Middle Tennessee last Saturday. Duke has the most experienced and talented offense that Memphis has seen so far this year, and the Blue Devils should be able to move the ball with ease. Sean Renfree should step up to bring better consistency for the Duke offense, and continue to get the ball downfield to Conner Vernon, Jamison Crowder, and Desmond Scott. The Blue Devils finally got their running game going in the second half last week, and should put together a better performance against a Memphis defensive line that ranks in the bottom 10 in the FBS in sacks and tackles for loss. Look for Duke to find more touches for Josh Snead and Jela Duncan, two players who sparked Duke’s 54 point performance in week 3. Defensively, Duke will need to remain opportunistic and come up with a key turnover or two against a Memphis team that has struggled to take care of the football. The Tigers will also be without their top rusher in Jerrell Rhodes this week, putting more pressure on transfer QB Jacob Karam. Expect to see Duke’s defensive ends and safety blitzes looking to bring pressure on the first year starter.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
The Blue Devils have been vulnerable on special teams this year, and that’s one area where Memphis has excelled so far in 2012. The Tigers will come in desperate for a win under first year Head Coach Justin Fuente, and a big play on special teams could give them just the kind of momentum they need in this game. The receiving tandem of Marcus Rucker and Keiwone Malone are averaging better than 150 yards per game, and going up against Duke’s banged-up secondary, Memphis will look to get the ball in their hands downfield. Memphis has struggled with turnovers, but they’ve also created some takeaways on defense, and Duke will have to continue to take care of the football, as they did against NCCU. Another 4 turnover performance like the Blue Devils had at Stanford could help Memphis pull off the upset.
WHY DUKE WILL WIN
The Tigers are in a transition as they look to turn their program around after losing 34 of their last 39 games overall. Duke is a few years ahead of Memphis in their rebuilding efforts, and they have a more talented and experienced team across the board. The Blue Devils will use this game as their final tune up before ACC play, and expect to see the Duke offense put up big numbers against a struggling Memphis defensive unit. Duke’s receivers will have a big day, and the running game will finally break off the big run they’ve been looking for. The depleted secondary will continue to find a way to make a big play, and Duke will take advantage of a Memphis team without its leading rusher, making for a long night for Karam and his offense. Duke 48, Memphis 21