The Blue Devils are 5-1, after our experts all correctly picked another Duke victory over Virginia last week. For the week, we had a three-way tie for the win between Bob Harris, Thad Lewis, and Patrick Cacchio. Overall, it remains close at the top , with 7 of our 8 experts within 5 points of the lead.
Here are the updated standings:
The week 7 slate of games features another set of marquee matchups, with a few critical conference rivalry games. Kicking things off will be the annual Red River rivalry, as Texas and Oklahoma clash in a Big 12 classic. Geno Smith and West Virginia look headed for another Big 12 shootout as they travel back to the Lonestar state to take on Texas Tech. A resurgent Notre Dame team looks to stay undefeated as they face Stanford. The marquee matchup is again in the SEC, where South Carolina, fresh off a big win over UGA, travels to the Bayou to take on LSU. Within the ACC, UNC travels to Miami, and Virginia hosts Maryland. It's sure to be another exciting Saturday of college football, and our experts expect a close game for the Blue Devils in Blacksburg.
Here are this week's picks:
Patrick Cacchio: Duke has an opportunity to get their 6th win on Saturday against a struggling Hokies team, but this remains a tough match up for the Blue Devils. Coming off 2 straight losses, Virginia Tech will be looking to restore their dominance in the ACC Coastal Division and get QB Logan Thomas back on track. Lane Stadium is never an easy place to play, and this will be a close contest, with the Homecoming crowd pushing the Hokies to victory. Virginia Tech 31, Duke 27
Bob Green: The outcome of this game will be predicated upon the ability to execute sustained drives. If Duke is able to establish a running game to setup the play action pass, avoid turnovers and costly penalties (two areas that have not been a problem this season) they will be victorious in Blacksburg and earn bowl eligibility.
Duke' defensive backs are more talented than Virginia Tech's receivers so the defense must force the Hokies into passing situations and then pressure Quarterback Logan Thomas to create turnover opportunities. Virginia Techs lack of a featured running back will be their undoing.
Since Coach Cutcliffe's arrival in Durham, Duke has played Virginia Tech competitively in three of four meetings, losing: 14-3; 34-26; and, 14-10. I expect another competitive game this Saturday.
The Hokies have struggled on defense so far this season yielding
22.3 points and 390 yards total offense per game. With Duke's high octane offense (37.8 ppg/414.7 ypg) headed to Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech's defense face a big challenge. The Blue Devils place multiple playmakers on the field for every play led by Conner Vernon, the ACC's All Time Leader in Pass Receptions, and Jela Duncan who leads the team in rushing yards.
Juwan Thompson and Josh Snead complete Duke's three headed rushing attack, while Jamison Crowder, 5th in the ACC in Pass Receptions with 38, and Desmond Scott, 6th in the ACC in Pass Receptions with 36, are two talented receivers who punish defenses which are focused on slowing down Vernon.
Defensively, Duke is banged up but playing solid as a unit. Some key players could be returning to the line-up as Coach Cutcliffe announced Jamal Bruce, Justin Foxx, Brandon Braxton and Chris Tavarez have participated in practice this week. Duke 28, Virginia Tech 27 in a thriller!
Andrew Slater: As outlandish as this might've sounded at the beginning of the year, this is a must win game for the Hokies, who will be scrambling for wins in a bid to make a bowl game, with their difficult remaining schedule. They will need for Logan to use his athleticism and strength as a runner. In the games against Pittsburgh and North Carolina, Virginia Tech was frankly terrible against the run. Jela Duncan has been better than advertised as a freshman, but it's difficult to imagine him having an absolute breakout game against a prideful Hokies team at home. I expect to see the Hokies QB Logan to pick his spots, but to use his strength as a runner against the Blue Devils more often than he's demonstrated so far this season. The gap has closed dramatically between the two programs, but I think the Hokies will muster enough pride to squeak out a victory. 31-27 Virginia Tech
Mark Watson: I will be pulling for the Blue Devils in a most big way but the Hokies in Blacksburg are a tall order. Coming off an unusual performace where their defense struggled, I expect them to bounce back. Prove me wromg Duke Gang. Duke can win if they limit turnovers but the pick is Virginia Tech 28 Duke 20
Bob Harris: Duke has an excellent change at getting bowl-eligible. Virginia Tech is smarting, but not the same team that has beaten Duke 11 straight times. Final score -- DUKE 35 - VT 17
Matt Daniels: The Devils are 5-1 and are on a roll while the Hokies are off to a start they haven't seen in quite some time..look for the Devils to get a road win and they become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. And if the field goal posts at Duke do not come down in Wallace Wade, I will bring them down myself!
Thad Lewis: Duke is clicking on all cylinders and have play vtech tough and will finally pull it out this time.
Vinny Rey: Duke 17 Virginia Tech 16- this will be one to remember. The Duke defense will get after the Hokie offense with key turnovers.