Category Archives: Duke Football

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.

Can Duke Swat the Yellow Jackets?

The Duke Blue Devils return to the Brooks field this Saturday to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Wallace Wade Stadium.

About Georgia Tech

Well, those Paul Johnson-David Cutcliffe matchups are over. It may be odd for some Duke fans to not see the full-fledged option attack of the past when Duke faces the Yellow Jackets this weekend.

The Jackets are now led by first-year coach Geoff Collins and they will run a more traditional offensive system. Collins team has some capable defenders but on the offensive side of the ball, they have struggled not having scored over 24 points this season. In fact, at 1-4, they are fresh off a 38-22 loss to North Carolina a week ago.

The key for Georgia Tech will be to try and get off to a quick start against Duke. Teams that have done so, have given the Blue Devils headaches. The Yellow Jackets will seek to control the ball via their run game while hoping their defense can slow down Quentin Harris and the offense.

About Duke

The Blue Devils must put the Pitt loss behind them and that is easier said than done. A week ago, a horrid start doomed Duke as their comeback fell short in a highly frustrating loss to Pitt where they did not protect their home field.

Duke is a heavy favorite in this game where the line is Duke by 17.5. If the Blue Devils play up to their capabilities, this should be their fourth win on the season. In fact, this is a must-win for bowl hopes in that Duke will be the underdog in most of their remaining games where things currently stand,

The Blue Devils are a pretty good football team, but the aforementioned schedule leaves no room for losing close games as happened a week ago. Duke should be able to slow down Georgia Tech with its defense which had to deal with the offense's mistakes a week ago.

What will happen

Duke may get out of the gate a little slow but they should shake off the funk of a week ago for the win. The Blue Devils may rest some borderline injured players in this one as well, but they will look to bounce back with a good overall performance. The key will be to not look ahead to a game at Virginia and take care of the business at hand.

I dropped to 4-1 on my straight-up picks and stand at 4-1 vs the spread. I hope to bounce back this week as well. The pick here is Duke 37 Georgia Tech 11