When: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium
Line: Miami by 4
Miami is the only legit team left in Duke’s way in their quest to make it to the ACC Championship. Normally this would be an easy game to pick. Miami has won 8 of its 9 meetings against the Blue Devils, with the only Duke win coming back in 1976. There is something different about this year and this team for Duke, and it is senior day. A lot of great players will suit up in their blue, white and black for the last time in Wallace Wade Stadium, and they obviously will want to put on a show. This game will come down to two things: Can Duke’s defense stop a depleted Miami offense which doesn’t have its best player, and do the Hurricanes have any fight left in them?
After losing starting running back and best offensive player Duke Johnson for the season, Miami laid an egg and were soundly outplayed at home last week in a loss to Virginia Tech. Unfortunately for Miami, Duke Johnson, their star running back and best player, is injured and out for the season. That means the bulk of the pressure is now on quarterback Stephen Morris’ shoulders. Morris is the type of player who plays either really well or atrociously bad. He has a solid 14 touchdown passes on the season but has also thrown 10 interceptions. Although the loss of Johnson is tough for the Hurricanes, they still have depth and talent at the running back and wide receiver positions. Backup Dallas Crawford has 10 rushing touchdowns on the season while receivers Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley have combined for over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns through the air. Denzel Perryman has been the most impressive defensive player at the linebacker position. He has been compared to greats such as Ray Lewis and Jonathan Vilma, both of whom also attended Miami. They have a talented secondary, but it is very young. Tracy Howard and Deon Bush are both sophomores and extremely athletic but have the tendency to get beaten deep, and Duke definitely has the capability of doing that.
Offensively, I truly believe in Duke. Led by quarterback Anthony Boone, they are on a 5 game winning streak, always finding a way to win. Duke basically has a 3 running back system, led by Jela Duncan and Josh Snead. Duke’s best offensive player, Jamison Crowder, has over 900 yards receiving on the season while also having the duty of returning punts, which he is very effective at. The offensive line has done a fantastic job during the winning streak of protecting the quarterback and creating huge gaps for the backs to run through. As much as I believe in the offense, I feel the exact opposite about Duke’s defense. They did play very well against Virginia Tech, but the Hokies are awful at every skill position offensively and have struggled against most teams. Senior Ross Cockrell deserves some love for the Blue Devils. He is far and away their best cornerback and defensive player, always guarding the opposing team’s best receiver and normally shutting them down to an extent. He is listed as probable after sitting out last week against North Carolina St. with an ankle injury he suffered in the 2nd half against Virginia Tech. I hope Duke’s defense will show up on Saturday but I question whether athletically they can hang with the Hurricanes.
Outside of the Virginia Tech game, this is by far the toughest game I have had to pick. Will the fact that it is Senior Day propel Duke to play another fantastic game and find a way to win, or will Miami’s athleticism be too much for the Blue Devils to handle? Duke Johnson being out is a huge loss for the Canes, but I believe that they are just too athletic and big on both sides of the ball for Duke to handle. Sorry Blue Devil Nation, but I am unfortunately picking Miami to beat Duke 45-34.