When: Saturday, October 27 2018. 3:30 pm
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Television: ACC RSN, Fox Sports South
Line: Duke -2.5
Last Time: Duke 17, Pitt 24. It was a deflating loss to say the least when the Panthers came to Durham last season. Pitt QB Ben DiNucci completed just 8 passes, but it was more than enough as Pitt racked up 336 rushing yards, 254 by Darrin Hall. Duke took a 17-7 lead with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, but gave up a 92 yard touchdown run on the very next possession. The Blue Devils didn’t score again and a 10 point fourth quarter for the Panthers set the final scoring margin. Duke had a chance to tie the game late, driving all the way to the Pitt 22 yard line before Daniel Jones was intercepted with just 45 seconds remaining, effectively ending the game. TJ Rahming had a big day with 8 catches for 142 yards and his first touchdown of the season. The Duke defense had a solid day, despite giving up a load of rushing yards, totaling 8 tackles for a loss, but the offense was shutout for the final quarter of the game.
Duke saw their dream of a Coastal Division title die last Saturday, in all likelihood. That doesn’t mean the Blue Devils still can’t have a good season. Saturday’s contest against the Pitt Panthers feels like a must win if Duke doesn’t want to suffer the same collapse that almost ruined last season.
Last year the inability of the offensive line to help in the run game or pass protection and inconsistency in the group of wide receivers cause Duke to crater after a promising start to the season. The loss to Virginia brought back all of those familiar problems. Daniel Jones needs a bounce back performance after the Virginia defense did what they’ve done season after season against Jones. He will have the opportunity to move the ball against the Panthers, but he cant do it himself. If Aaron Young and Brittain Brown could shake nagging injuries it would provide a boost to the offense. It may not be enough if the offensive line can’t step up. Duke will be without starting left tackle Jaylen Miller for the rest of the year. It’s going to take a group effort on offense to get back on track.
The Panthers have given Duke a hard time since getting to the ACC. The Blue Devils should expect nothing less on Saturday. Pitt has been a bit of a mystery this season, much like every season. They’ve lost to North Carolina, knocked off Syracuse in overtime, and most recently, taken Notre Dame down to the wire. This won’t be an easy game for Duke, but it is a critical one.