Duke fell flat a week ago despite some key big plays by losing in a style which all want to forget. Now, they face a 1-3 Florida State team which is wounded and apt to bite.
Had you told anyone before the season, the Seminoles would visit Wallace Wade Stadium not ranked and seeking win number two, well, you may have been committed.
Look, the Noles return nine defensive starters from a season ago and every player on their team was highly recruited by the nations best programs. It makes little sense to think they will continue their slide for very much longer. In short, nobody feels sorry for them and they have talent in droves.
Duke has been labeled a 7 point underdog, but that could be low. The reason is that the offense is in a funk where they are returning to their ways of a season ago. Last year, the Blue Devils struggled to find the end zone and everyone knew to turn things around, that had to improve.
In early wins, Duke looked as though offensive production would not be an issue, but regression is at hand. With no passing game to speak of in the last few outings, Duke will be severely challenged to score points against the fastest defense they will have played to date.
If it seems like I am talking mainly about Duke in this preview, well, I am. For there is no need to worry about the opponent when confidence seems to be an issue after consecutive losses.
The last time out on Brooks Field, Duke played Miami close for the longest time, but the defense would tire after multiple failed offensive possessions. Last week, they lost to Virginia where it seemed as if they got away from the run and thus lost the time of possession battle. In a sense, there is now a clear blueprint in how to beat Duke, that being not worrying much about the pass.
Duke flat-out needs to reignite their desire and drive heading into the second half of the season. There were times a week ago when you could not see the fire necessary to win football games. And times when players would make special plays only to see their teammates not rise to the occasion.
In all honesty, most would have taken a 4-2 record before the season started at the half way mark. But with winning comes higher expectations and maybe those were too lofty after a 4-0 start.
I do not see the Blue Devils matching up well with Florida State for they struggle with big and fast teams as does everybody. If they play as they did a week ago, they are not ready for the talent level they will face come Saturday just yet. Duke has gone from expecting wins after their fast start to seeking wins.
Duke fans would be tickled silly to get a win over the mighty Florida State program. Maybe they will play with fire and who knows what can happen. But after picking Duke to win every game thus far this season which I admit was reaching when doing so against Miami, I can't go that route again this week.
The pick here is Florida State 31 Duke 14