Duke (1-0) at Memphis (0-0)
Sept. 7, 4:30, ESPN3
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Duke and Memphis in the same building makes for an interesting matchup on hardwood. It’ll produce a few intriguing storylines on grass as well. The Blue Devils began 2013 by blanking N.C. Central, 45-0. It’s an important season for sixth-year head coach David Cutcliffe, who wants to show that Duke’s 2012 bowl berth was a harbinger of things to come rather than an aberration. The Tigers were among the handful of FBS schools that didn’t begin their campaign last weekend. Memphis, which has joined The American, is in the early stages of a rebuilding process under second-year coach Justin Fuente.
Why Duke Might Win: The parts are in place for the offense to be potent this year in Durham. Cutcliffe has no reservations about first-year starting QB Anthony Boone, who gives the attack an element of athleticism from the pocket. Memphis doesn’t have a defensive back capable of silencing Boone’s favorite target, Jamison Crowder, and Jela Duncan is an improving runner. The Blue Devils O-line is vastly underrated.
Why Memphis Might Win: The Tigers, too, are upbeat about their offense entering 2013. This game marks the start of the Paxton Lynch era behind center. The 6-7, 225-pound redshirt freshman has the long arm that was lacking a year ago. He’ll stretch the Duke defense, while feeding up-and-coming RB Brandon Hayes out of the backfield.
Who To Watch Out For: Duke has a very solid offensive line, but it’ll get tested by the Memphis front. Martin Ifedi, Terry Redden and Johnnie Farms get upfield and into the backfield in a hurry.
- Sixth-year senior DE Kenny Anunike will get at least a couple of chances to introduce himself to Lynch face-to-face. The heavy-legged Memphis tackles are vulnerable to Anunike’s strength and quickness.
- Boone has a chance in his final two years to evolve into a very good player under Cutcliffe. The junior has better feet and a stronger arm than predecessor Sean Renfree.
What Will Happen: Fuente has Memphis undeniably headed in the right direction. And by midseason, this will be a very plucky squad. But in the opener, the Tigers will fall a little short to the more seasoned Blue Devils. In a closer matchup than anticipated, Duke will ride the more consistent passing game to a hard-fought road victory.
Prediction: Duke 31 … Memphis 26
Line: Duke -6 – O/U: 49