When Duke takes on Miami Saturday afternoon, the Blue Devils will have a unique opportunity for the program, one many felt like wasn’t possible: they can control their own destiny.
What that means is the Duke, yes, Duke Football program will have an opportunity to actually make the ACC Championship game. Now as far as fans and the team is concerned that is a nice prospect but that quest starts against Miami.
The Hurricanes enter the game a bit beat up having lost their last two games and having lost their best overall player in running back Duke Johnson for the season. This has caused some uncertainty for Miami. That may seem like a positive for the Blue Devils, however, Duke has not beaten the Hurricanes since 1976, the first meeting between the schools, and they are winless against the Hurricanes in the ACC.
To make matters worse for Duke, they are coming into the game with uncertainty in their own offense. In the last two games, starting quarterback Anthony Boone has thrown seven interceptions and has failed to show the sharpness he demonstrated in his return three weeks ago from a broken collarbone.
Duke has managed to win both of those games as part of their current 5-game winning streak and one of those was on the road in Blacksburg, not an easy place to win. Still it is hard to believe that the Blue Devils can defeat a wounded, but talented Miami team with such ineffective quarterback play.
David Cutcliffe has stated that he intends to play both Boone and backup Brandon Connette, who came in and helped lead Duke on what would be a game-winning drive prior to defensive back DeVon Edward sealing the victory with two straight pick-sixes.
He also indicated that Duke would try to get back to establishing the run, something they have gone away from recently despite the successes they have had on the ground this season.
Miami is looking to get back to their winning ways and a lot of the weight will fall on quarterback Stephen Morris. Morris has thrown almost 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns, but has also thrown 10 interceptions. However, Miami’s strength is their speed and athleticism.
Despite not having Duke Johnson, the Hurricanes have a solid back in Dallas Crawford who has run for 331 yards and 10 touchdowns.
This game will ultimately come down to whether or not Duke’s offense can get out of its funk and whether its defense, which has come on strong as the year has gone on, can limit big plays. Despite not having its biggest name, Miami is still extremely dangerous and speed kills and the Hurricanes still have plenty of that.
A win for Duke would propel them as a serious contender to win the ACC Coastal Division, a loss would essentially kill that. Either way it has been a special year for the Blue Devils and win or lose, there is still a good shot to end the year as one of the best Duke teams, perhaps ever.
Miami 35 Duke-28
I really want to pick Duke to win this game but I think the short comings of the offense will finally catch up and I believe the Hurricanes will be highly motivated to get back on track with a win.
Duke’s offense I think will be improved but I think Miami’s will be better and I think there will just be too much speed and one too many explosive plays for the Blue Devils to come out on top.