Duke (4-2) at Virginia (2-4)
Oct. 19, 3:30, ESPN3
Why You Should Give A Hoot: A couple of Coastal Division programs heading in opposite directions will meet this Saturday in Charlottesville. Duke answered a two-game losing streak with a two-game winning streak, beating Troy and Navy in consecutive games. The Blue Devils return to ACC play knowing that they stand just two victories away from qualifying for back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. Virginia continues to make a case for being the league’s worst team, suffering an excruciating one-point loss at Maryland a week ago. The Cavaliers kick off a three-game homestand, needing to build some momentum before the bottom completely falls out for beleaguered head coach Mike London.
Why Duke Might Win: The Blue Devil offense had been playing well all year. It’s even more potent now that QB Anthony Boone is back from a broken collarbone that sidelined him in Week 2. Showing no rust, he completed 31-of-38 passes for 295 yards, three touchdowns and no picks last week. Now that Boone has reunited with big-play WR Jamison Crowder, Duke will be far more effective through the air than the dink-and-dunk Cavaliers.
Why Virginia Might Win: Yeah, the Cavaliers have struggled offensively this season, but they are coming off their best output of the season. And Duke has the kind of D on which momentum can be built. Against Maryland, Virginia rolled up 505 yards, including 263 through the air from David Watford and 193 on the ground from backs Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd. UVa might finally have the rhythm it needs to keep pace in a higher scoring game.
Who To Watch Out For: What’s happened to that veteran Virginia secondary that began the season with so much hope? CB Demetrious Nicholson and the boys have allowed 678 yards and three touchdowns to Keith Wenning and Caleb Rowe, troubling numbers with Duke heading north.
- The Duke defense has had its share of ups-and-downs in 2013, but sophomore S Jeremy Cash has been one of the constants. He not only leads the Devils with 58 tackles, but he also has six stops for loss and has been active jumping routes.
What Will Happen: While the talent gap between Duke and Virginia isn’t that big, the mindsets of the programs are going in opposite directions. The Blue Devils are confident, while the Cavs are in a freefall. Boone’s energy—and arm—will help extend Duke’s winning streak to three games, taking advantage of a UVa defensive backfield that’s become suddenly easier to navigate.
Prediction: Duke 31 … Virginia 24
Line: Virginia -2.5 – O/U: 51