Where: Scott Stadium
When: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Line: UVA by 2 ½
Is Duke and UVA a rivalry on the football field? "I don't know what it is about Duke and Virginia," cornerback Ross Cockrell said Tuesday, "but it's just a rowdy game." Seems like Duke players think so, and having won 4 of the past 5 against the Wahoos their confidence should be as high as ever on Saturday. This is a big game for both teams, Duke is trying to inch closer to a bowl berth while UVA needs a moral boost after losing three straight including a 21 point home loss to Ball State. Whether it’s a rivalry or not, what we do know is this game usually produces classic moments and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire game.
UVA’s lone bright spot offensively this season has been running back Kevin Parks, who in 6 games has 510 rushing yards with 6 touchdowns. Quarterback David Watford has struggled so far this year, throwing 7 interceptions and only four touchdowns. His game against Maryland last week was his best but the team couldn’t punch it in while in the red zone, converting only 2 out of 6 times. UVA’s best receiver might be at the tight end position, Jake McGee is a beast and torched Maryland for 114 yards and a touchdown. Like Duke, UVA is woeful in the secondary. In their past two games they have been picked apart for 678 yards through the air. With their best cornerback Demetrious Nicholson out for the game I expect Duke to throw the ball with ease. Their defensive line has played much better, with Eli Harold playing at an All-ACC level.
Man was I wrong about my beloved Blue Devils last week. To all of my fellow Duke fanatics, I apologize. My prediction that Duke would lose to Navy was about as wrong as UNC fans thinking they would beat Duke in Cameron in 2010. Getting quarterback Anthony Boone back last week was and will be a huge boost for Duke the rest of the season. His ability to throw the ball downfield along with his calming presence and leadership on the sideline will give Duke a huge edge in the rest of its games. The Blue Devils unique ability to not only pass the ball with Boone but also run it with their abundance of running backs will keep UVA’s already inept defense even more off balance. Duke’s question mark continues to be on the defensive side of the ball, although they played very well last week against Navy. Holding a normally potent offense to just 73 total yards in the 2nd half was huge not only on the field but mentally for the defense as well. After playing so poorly against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, Duke’s defense needed a morale boost and got a big one against the Midshipmen. Navy was a primarily running offense though, so Duke’s normally suspect secondary didn’t have much to worry about through the air. If the defense plays as well as they did against Navy it will be an easy day for the Blue Devils.
It surprised me when I saw that UVA was favored by 2 ½ points. With Boone back and UVA struggling I expected Duke to a slight favorite on the road. This game will come down to UVA’s ability to stop Duke’s explosive passing attack and offensively whether or not the Wahoos can prevent costly turnovers. I believe Duke is by far the more confident football team and with their lethal offense and UVA’s below average defense I say Duke wins this game 37-24.