Category Archives: Duke Football

Duke Hits A Low in Blowout Loss

You did not have to worry about getting into a traffic jam when leaving Wallace Wade Stadium this past Saturday. The few people who were actually in the stands in cold and windy weather were gone well before the fourth quarter began and who could blame them?

Duke was a 10 point favorite over a Syracuse team seeking their first win but lost the contest, falling to 4-6 on the season with two games remaining on the schedule. But they lost by a score of 49-6 and my guess is that no team which has been favored by double-digits has been defeated so soundly anywhere in the nation all season long.

What we saw was an epic collapse and the team went off the rails in ways that has everyone asking questions. Now, those questions are nothing new. I do not have to mention what they are, for everyone who follows the team knows and has heard them for a while now.

Those questions came rushing back on social media and from anyone who saw the game yesterday. And if you were able to sit through the entire affair, you have hereby been dubbed the fan of the year.

The Duke offense was a punchless mess. There was a timeout on third and long earlier in the game with the score at 0-0 when Duke elected to run the ball, which led to a missed field goal and that set the tone.

In hindsight, it is easy to say Duke maybe should have thrown the ball, for they would not get many more chances in scoring position. But many did not need hindsight to see this was a drive wasted going for the safe points as the team is suddenly allergic to the endzone.

Maybe, the decision-makers did not realize that Duke was about to be rolled over and abused until games end by a Syracuse team that seemed hungry, better prepared and that wanted to be on the field. The Orange beat Duke more soundly than did Alabama in the opener or Notre Dame a week ago.

The problem here is nobody will mistake Syracuse football with the two aforementioned blue-blood programs. They were winless and let up 70 plus points to Maryland and, after that, every ACC team had their way with one obvious exception.

Yes, Duke has had some injuries, but that is a part of the game. There are just no viable excuses as to why the offense has become predictable to the point where every team prepares well for them as the season wanes on.

There are many more issues. Duke has not been coming out of the locker room adjusted and prepared. Their confidence is so thin, that an untimely bounce of the ball on an interception looks like it takes the wind out of their sails, creating the impression of a very fragile mental state.

It is hard to keep throwing dinks and dunks passes when the other team stacks the front. With so much traffic there, turnovers will happen. Just ask anyone who watched the Blue Devils commit three consecutive turnovers to start the second half, which all led to Syracuse touchdowns.

I personally picked Duke 5-7 at the start of the season. In some ways, I saw struggles coming. There were plenty of question marks and a brutal schedule and a quarterback going down they wanted to develop. But the team played well enough to create hope and expectations early in the season.

It is hard to fathom what has happened since Duke soundly defeated Virginia Tech on the road. The two teams went in different directions and that is what makes the latest result dumbfounding in nature.

Virginia Tech can win the Coastal by winning out. Duke has found itself looking like a team wanting to throw in the towel on the season of late.

The loss made several people bring up the collapse against Wake Forest a season ago. Duke was a mild favorite at home in that game only to lose in epic fashion on their own turf.

But Wake Forest was a bowl-bound team and that is not the case with the Orange, who were reeling most of their season before finding optimal success in Durham.

The reality is that the loss to Syracuse this season is more disturbing than the one to Wake a year ago.

One thing is certain, though. Between now and before next season the staff needs to take a good look at how they are doing things on the offensive side of the ball.

It would seem that a lot of problems start there. If you cannot control the clock a bit and put your defense in a good position then this backward spiral will continue.

Perhaps if there is an effort to fix one of the glaring weaknesses in the team of late, solutions to some of the other problems will start to fall into place.

Will Duke Get Back to Winning Ways vs Syracuse?

The Duke Blue Devils take on the Syracuse Orange in Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday afternoon where they seek to end a three-game losing streak.

After starting the season 3-1, Duke has stumbled against ACC competition where they currently own a 2-3 mark which is good for sixth place in the topsy-turvey Coastal Division.

In their last three league losses, the Blue Devils have been within a play of winning two of the games. Now the team is coming off a lopsided loss to Notre Dame and they're facing the injury bug which most recently sidelined one of its offensive line leaders in the center, Jack Willoughby.

On the other side of the ball, the Syracuse Orange has struggled even more. So far this season, the team is winless in the league while owning a 3-6 mark in all games.

You can make a case that Syracuse is the most disappointing team in the league. They were considered a lock for a bowl game by many in the preseason, but they have had trouble stopping opposing teams offenses.

One has to think the Orange sees the Blue Devils as a chance to get their first ACC victory. A closer look at the teams on paper shows some pretty even stats and quarterback Tommy DeVito and their offense can put up some points.

Duke needs to get back to the basics in many ways. The team needs to come out on fire and not allow their opponent early game success in order to halt the losing streak.

The Blue Devils have struggled at times with their run game and to beat Syracuse they will need some success on the ground to keep the defense off the field. It is worth noting that Syracuse is also coming off a bye week where they have had extra time to prepare.

My gut tells me that this game could be closer than some people think. Duke has been labeled a 10 point favorite by the oddsmakers. The feeling here is that Duke will need a solid defensive effort to win this game.

As for predictions, I stand at 8-1 straight up for the season and 6-1-1 against the spread. The pick here is Duke 28 Syracuse 20.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Duke

It has been a long while since the Notre Dame Fighting Irish visited Duke's, Wallace Wade Stadium. The year was 1966 and the result was a 64-0 loss which lives n less infamy only because of the passing of time. The Duke Administration had deemphasized the football program once Bill Murry retired and it took just a couple of years for it to show on the football field after a string of ACC titles earlier that decade.

A lot has changed since then. After years of losing with the exception of blips on the radar from a couple of years from Steve Spurrier and one good year under Fred Goldsmith, Duke managed to hire David Cutcliffe. That hire has led to Duke going bowling on a regular basis, something many thought impossible.

In fact, Cutcliffe is currently 1-0 against the Fighting Irish, thanks to a 38-35 2016 victory in South Bend. That was Daniel Jones coming out party, or, at least when NFL scouts started to take notice.

Duke is a couple of plays from being 6-2 this season. The Blue Devils have had a week off since losing the Victory Bell in an emotional loss to their rival. The question is whether the off week was enough time to refocus their efforts on getting to a bowl game.

The Blue Devils currently stand 4-4 and the upcoming slate starts with the Irish, followed by Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Miami. Finding two more wins will not be an easy task.

Notre Dame is a very talented football team. The Irish stumbled against their rival Michigan and currently stand ranked 15th nationally with a 6-2 record. Make no mistake, the goal of their program is to win out, starting with Duke.

The Irish showed early game hangover symptoms a week ago where they edged Virginia Tech, Duke, of course, throttled the Hokies but were blown out by Virginia, a team the Irish handled easily.

What may work in Notre Dames favor is a sudden drop in temperature for the 7:30 kickoff time on the ACC Network. Duke is expecting a large crowd to see the Irish-Blue Devils clash on Brooks Field. Fans are encouraged to get to the stadium earlier than normal for this game.

The key in this game for Duke is to be in the contest going into the second half. More importantly, half time adjustments need to be positive for the Blue Devils have allowed 90 opposing team points in the 3rd quarter.

A win for Duke would work wonders in rekindling program interest. A victory on a big stage is always healing, but the Irish want nothing to do with said scenario.

Notre Dame has been tabbed an 8 point favorite this Saturday. I am picking the Irish this week in that they have a balanced offensive attack. That and the fact they escaped last week's trap game with the Hokies leads me to believe the Irish exorcised the demons of losing to a rival.

On the other side of the ball, it is less clear to know how Duke will respond where they lost to rival North Carolina last time out. Duke is capable of winning this game with a stalwart effort, but expecting them to be free of emotional debris while facing a nationally ranked team which was in everyone's top ten to start the season is a tall order.

As for my prediction, I stand 7-1 straight up on the season. I fell to 6-1-1 versus the spread where last week's game with UNC was a push at 3 points. I see Duke playing hard in this one, but the Irish will stand victorious in the end. Notre Dame 31 Duke 21

It’s All About the Victory Bell!

When Duke and North Carolina take to the field this Saturday at 4:00 in Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill it's all about the Victory Bell.

The Blue Devils have won three consecutive games in the series but each of those contests has been close. This season, a rejuvenated North Carolina team comes into the game as a 3 point favorite and for good reason.

The Tar Heels are the best 3-4 team in the nation. Does that comment sound strange to you? Well, if one takes a closer look at the situation it shouldn't.

North Carolina has been within 6 points of their opponent's win or lose in every game this season. And that is a fact against a solid schedule. The Tar Heels opened the season with a bang with wins over South Carolina (which beat Georgia) and Miami.

The Tar Heels played #2 Clemson even until losing at the end 21-20. Losses have come by 3 points to nationally ranked Appalachian State by 3, 2 points versus Virginia Tech last week in 6 overtimes in Blacksburg and a 6 point loss on the road to a solid Wake Forest team. Their four losses have been by a combined 12 points.

As for similar foes, Duke played its best game of the season against Virginia Tech winning large and they defeated Georgia Tech 41-23 at home while the Tar Heels defeated the Jackets on the road 38-22.

Unlike Duke which was dismantled by Virginia a week ago and Alabama in their opener, the Tar Heels have been competitive in every game.

The intangibles in my opinion point to a Tar Heels win. They are playing at home. They have the confidence they can play with anyone, they have a quarterback who has thrown for 20 touchdowns with a mere 3 interceptions as well in freshman Sam Howell.

But the one thing which has boosted North Carolina this year was the addition of head coach Mack Brown who has made the season fun for their players again. And you know the calendar has been circled from day one for the October 26th game with Duke.

The intangibles on the Duke side of the ball are in play as well. Can the Blue Devils put a horrid loss to Virginia behind them? Can they match the Tar Heels hunger to reclaim the bell circling the wagons for a win?

The Duke offense has been hit or miss of late and slow starts have caused the Blue Devils to lose to Pitt, and aforementioned Virginia as well.

Two of the Blue Devils wins are over North Carolina A & T and Middle Tennesee, making the win over Virginia Tech their best of the season to date.

The cold-hard fact is if the remaining games the schedule were all played tomorrow, Duke would be the underdog in all but one of them.

That should tell you how important this game is for Duke in that they need two wins to get to bowl eligibility with a tough schedule ahead.

The Duke defense has played well overall but they have been put into hopeless positions of late. Be it turnovers or failed fourth-down conversions, the defense has been on the field with their backs against the wall far too often.

What that points to is a sputtering offense. Few playmakers have stepped up of late for Duke. There have been too few downfield passes, breakaway runs, etc.

While I may have made all this sound like doom and gloom, a win for Duke would flip the season back to a favorable position. They would be one game shy of their sixth bowl game in seven seasons and retain the Victory Bell.

Let's face it, winning the bell makes for a good season in the rivalry. And that means the hungriest team will end Saturday on a high note.

But the danger in this game is that Duke seems to ride the momentum and there has not been enough of that of late. And if momentum is going their opponent's way it seems to come in waves.

Duke cannot afford to give the Tar Heels any momentum they do not earn. A turnover could start the wave of confidence for an opponent which is hungry to flip the switch on close losses to good teams against their rival. If they get on a roll, they will not hold back.

It is just hard to have a lot of confidence in Duke coming off a loss similar to the Wake Forest debacle a season ago. Meanwhile, their rival has played inspired football and been in every game against stiff competition.

While this may not be a popular statement, losing to Duke three consecutive times is a nightmare scenario for the guys down the road. On the other hand, a loss for Duke points to better luck next season.

If Duke can pull this win off, the sunshine will be bright again on the program going into their off week. This is the Blue Devils third crossroads game this year. They lost the first two to Pitt and Virginia which makes the Coastal Divison a pipe dream.

A win in this game would mean wonderful things for the program and cure a lot of ills. A loss would drop the team to 4-4 and answering questions during a long off week before playing Notre Dame at home.

My picks are 6-1 straight up for the season and 6-1 against the spread. I would like to be wrong this week, but the pick here is North Carolina 31 Duke 24

Duke at UVA – Something Has to Give

The Duke Blue Devils travel to Charlottesville this Saturday to take on the Virginia Cavaliers. Make no mistake about the fact that this is a huge game for both schools in the highly competitive ACC Coastal Division.

In fact, it is fair to say that both the Blue Devils and Cavaliers are at a season crossroads. The winner will very much be in the thick of the race, while the loser will need plenty of help to get back into contention.

Both teams come into the contest at 2-1 in the league and 4-2 overall. Duke wasted a golden opportunity to be in control of the division with a recent home loss to Pitt before bouncing back against Georgia Tech, a team that is at the bottom of the standings.

Virginia (4-2) has lost two games in a row to Norte Dame and Miami, but the Cavaliers have been ranked for much of the season. They also hold a convincing win over Pitt on the road and defeated Florida State at home.

Duke has lost three consecutive games to Virginia under Bronco Mildenhall; each in frustrating fashion. The Cavaliers made Daniel Jones look like a player you would never guess left school early and starts for the New York Giants. They feasted off his passes for record turnovers, so, hopefully, the memory of the struggles is enough to get Duke better prepared.

Making a case for Virginia to win

Bronco Mildenhall has had the Blue Devils number since he took over the Virginia program after leaving BYU. The Cavaliers have played with confidence in the series where their defense has stymied Duke in their previous matchups. They will seek to carry that over in this game.

While the Cavaliers have most recently lost their best defensive player in Bryce Hall, the defense should still be quite stingy. If they set the tone early in this game, they could allow their offense which has struggled at times with their offensive front to flourish against what many consider a lesser opponent than their last two opponents.

If Virginia establishes a running game, an area where they have struggled, it could be a long day for Duke. What you can count on is a staunch passing attack where playmaker Bryce Perkins throws to receivers with both size and speed. Wideouts Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois have the potential to thrive against a Duke secondary that has a single interception this season.

Another area where Virginia may flourish on the defensive side of the ball is the play of solid linebackers Zane Zandier, Charles Snowden and Jordan Mack. All three of these players are in the top four for team tackles.

Making a case for Duke to win

The law of averages is on the Blue Devils side. After dropping four straight to the Cavaliers, Duke hopes to get back to its winning ways where David Cutcliffe owns a winning record in the series.

Duke has distributed the ball to many players on offense and that will be a key in this contest. If Duke can establish some sort of running game versus the 13th rated defense against the rush in the land it should allow for Quentin Harris to make some plays downfield.

The Blue Devils have been solid on defense at times. If they get after Bryce Perkins and then neutralize his running ability, it will bode well for the team. They are capable of stacking the box and shutting down the run game.

Duke has been solid in the kicking game this season as well where AJ Reed has not missed a field goal. While Reed has tried just eight attempts, he is perfect thus far.

The Prediction

This game could go either way. That is obvious on paper where Virginia opened as a 5.5 point favorite which has dropped to 3 as of today. Whichever team can execute for four quarters will likely win for a slow start in this game may spell doom.

In a close game, turnovers will loom large, so whoever wins that battle may come out victorious as well. In my mind, the team that scores four touchdowns will win. FWIW, UVA is undefeated at home and 4-0 when they score 28 or more. A missed or even a made field goal may play a big role in a game that will come down to defense.

It makes sense to pick UVA to win if for no other reason than their recent success in the series where the two teams have played every year since 1963. They are also playing at home and they were the preseason pick to win the division by the media as well.

On the other hand, Duke once again has an opportunity to remain in or tied for first place. And that is something to play for. It will require a terrific effort to win this game and hunger for accomplishing that will come into play.

I stand at 5-1 straight up and 5-1 against the spread for the season. I will be the first to admit I would not suggest wagering on this game nor do we promote that with our picks. The against the spread picks are for entertainment purposes only.

That said, I must make a pick in a game where intangibles will rule. Here it goes ...Virginia 28 Duke 23 I think the Blue Devils may lose a heartbreaker in the 4th quarter.

The homer pick in me says the Duke defense will stand tall and the Blue Devils win 24-21. It could happen.

Duke Gets Win over Georgia Tech

The Duke Blue Devils moved to 2-1 in the ACC and 4-2 overall with a 41-23 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

The game was far from pretty but the Blue Devils did what it takes to hold off the Yellow Jackets.

Duke reeled off 38 straight points in the 1st half after Georgia Tech took the opening drive for a score.

The scoring started off with a 33 yards AJ Reed field goal which was the first of two for the game.

True freshman wideout Eli Pancol would later score on a 3 yard run for his third score of the season.

Duke running back Deon Jackson would add two short running scores of 1 and 7 yards. Duke QB Quentin Harris added a one-yard plunge after a career-high rush from Manteo Durant.

Georgia Tech would rebound for a quick score before the half on a James Graham 8 yard run to make the half time score 38-14.

Duke came out flat as a pancake in the 2nd half. Georgia Tech quickly added a field goal to cut the lead to 38-17. Duke added an AJ Reed FG, he has yet to miss for the season.

The Yellow Jackets then scored 8 play 41 yard drive a blocked punt to make it Duke 41-23.

The Blue Devils have struggled of late to put forth a consistent effort and they now must travel to Virginia. The Cavaliers have had the Blue Devils number and Duke will be the underdog in Charlottesville.

Duke, UNC, and Virginia all 2-1 in the league are currently all tied atop the contention crowded Coastal Division.