Duke at Virginia Tech
3:30 PM ET
Saturday, October 26
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network
Duke in 2013: 5-2 (Defeated UVA 35-22 last week)
VT in 2013: 6-1 (Off last week, defeated Pitt 19-9 in last game)
PROBABLE – WR Johnell Barnes, LB Kyler Brown, CB Bryon Fields
OUT – CB Jared Boyd, S Dwayne Norman, QB Thomas Sirk
OUT FOR SEASON – OT Tanner Stone, DT Jamal Wallace
VIRGINIA TECH INJURIES
QUESTIONABLE – CB Kyle Fuller
DOUBTFUL – CB Brandon Facyson, LS Joe St. Germain
OUT – DE Matt Roth
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
Make no mistake, a Blue Devil victory on Saturday in Blacksburg would be the program’s biggest win in the David Cutcliffe era. Not only would it be the program’s 6th win, clinching bowl eligibility, but it would also be a road victory against a ranked opponent. The Blue Devils have dropped nine in a row to the Hokies, another streak that Cutcliffe hopes to end. A tremendous opportunity is at hand, but it will take a near perfect effort in all three phases.
Offensively, Duke will have to win the battle in the trenches. The Blue Devils’ veteran offensive line will have to control the line of scrimmage, allowing Duke to continue its success on the ground against a very tough Hokie defense, which allows just 15 points and 256 yards per game. An effective running game will open things up down field against a talented, but wounded, Virginia Tech secondary. Ball security is a must against a defense that has 13 interceptions through their first 7 games. Look for the Blue Devils to try and consistently move the chains utilizing a variety of receivers on short, effective routes.
Defensively, Duke has to replicate its performance from the second half in Charlottesville. The Hokies have struggled to score points all season, and the running game has been particularly difficult. After holding UVA to just 7 total rushing yards in the second half, the Blue Devils front 6 will need to again control the line of scrimmage, and contain QB Logan Thomas, who may be the Hokies’ best runner this season. Through the air, Thomas likes to spread the ball around, with senior WR D.J. Coles the primary deep threat, already with 5 touchdowns on the year with an average of over 15 yards per catch.
In a hostile environment on the road, the Blue Devils have to execute in the kicking game. Winning the field position battle against a physical defense will ease the pressure on Anthony Boone and the Blue Devil offense. Ross Martin will need to be at his best, as points are likely to come at a premium on Saturday. A big return from DeVon Edwards or Jamison Crowder could swing things in Duke’s favor.
HOW VIRGINIA TECH CAN WIN
Bud Foster and the Hokies’ defense have had two weeks to prepare for Anthony Boone and the Blue Devils. They will be bolstered by the return of All-ACC CB Antone Exum this week, who will look to make a splash in his season debut. If the Hokies’ execute and control the line of scrimmage as they expect to, they will dominate this game. Expect an aggressive gameplan against the Duke screen pass, as they will look to force the Blue Devils into 3rd and long situations. Similarly, expect Virginia Tech to be content to play for field position, forcing Duke to face a long field and try to maintain long drives.
Offensively, look for the Hokies to take chances against a still young and inconsistent Duke secondary. An explosive play or two through the air could be all Bud Foster’s defense needs to put the game away. On key third down situations, Logan Thomas can be as big of a weapon with his feet as with his arm. Trey Edmunds leads the way for a struggling Virginia Tech rushing game, but with the week off, J.C. Coleman may finally be healthy enough to break off a big run.
WHY VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN
Duke has the horses to pull of the improbable upset, but the Hokies will benefit from the extra week to prepare for the Blue Devils. As they look to make a push for another ACC Coastal Division championship, expect to see a dominant performance from the Virginia Tech defense on Saturday. The Hokies will find a way to force a crucial turnover to steal the momentum from the Blue Devils. Duke’s defense will play well enough to keep it close, but points will be too hard to come by for Anthony Boone and the Blue Devils.
Virginia Tech 23, Duke 16