In their first meeting since 2009, the Duke Blue Devils are hoping to continue their magical season and gain a seventh win of the season against NC State.
The “rival” schools are two teams who appear to be on two very different paths. NC State wasn’t expected to be a top ACC team but many felt that new coach Dave Doeren would have enough talent to make a run at a bowl. Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC) on the other hand was predicted to finish near the bottom of the Coastal Division. Low and behold here they are in a position to win the Coastal Division.
But first things first, the Blue Devils will have to take care of business against NC State, a team they are projected by oddsmakers to beat by as many as 10 points. Doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but when you consider it has been more than 10 years since the Blue Devils have been favored in an ACC game.
In order to keep their four game winning streak alive, Duke is going to need to continue to play defense at the level that it’s been playing since the second half of their victory over Troy.
The Blue Devils come into the game rested but not necessarily healthy. Duke has several defensive players including corner Ross Cockrell, safety Dwayne Norman, defensive end Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo and wide receiver Brandon Braxton are all questionable.
And while Duke has plenty of guys that could step up at receiver, the potential losses on defense could cause problems. Offensively, Duke quarterback Anthony Boone struggled against Virginia Tech’s vaunted defense but was able to put together enough offense to sneak out of Blacksburg with a victory. He will need to play better to become the first Duke quarterback ever to win their first seven starts.
For NC State, the Wolfpack are coming off a tough loss to arch rival North Carolina and are struggling at 3-5 (0-5 ACC) in Doeren’s first season at the helm. And despite the hope behind new quarterback Brandon Mitchell, he has not played very well after coming back from an injury suffered in the first game of the season.
Mitchell has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has thrown four interceptions. Backup quarterback Pete Thomas hasn’t fared much better, throwing only three touchdown passes to 8 interceptions. It will likely be the quarterback play that will make the difference for NC State.
Conversely, it may be up to Duke’s much improve defense, a unit that not all that long ago gave up 58 points in a single game to Pitt, that is the difference maker. If the Blue Devils can continue to play as effectively on defense then they certainly have the advantage over NC State.
This game will most likely lack the excitement that a typical rivalry game features, though there is expected to be a good turnout at Wallace Wade from both fan bases, as it will be the last game between the two teams until after the 2020 season.
Duke-38 NC State 28