No. 24 ranked Duke enters the game at 8-2 (4-2 ACC) and in complete control of its own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division. A victory would mean that the Blue Devils guarantee themselves a share of the division title, a loss makes all the talk moot. Wake Forest though at 4-6 still has something to play for, namely a chance at bowl eligibility.
The story of how similar these two small, private colleges without much modern era success on the gridiron is the reason Venn Diagrams were created. The Demon Deacons have enjoyed a recent surge in their football successes under coach Jim Grobe, Duke is finally starting to enjoy some similar success under David Cutcliffe.
Up until last season, Wake Forest had controlled the series between the two schools and Grobe had never lost to the Blue Devils. It looked as if things might be headed toward a familiar end for the Blue Devils, especially after quarterback Sean Renfree went out with an injury. Fortunately for Duke Anthony Boone came in, helped lead Duke from behind, and to a 34-27 crucial victory in the Blue Devils quest for a bowl last year.
Fast forward to 2013 and the situations are much different. Duke appears to be in control of things this season, looking more like the 2006 Wake Forest team that won the ACC Title, while Wake has struggled with bad break after bad break, including the loss of their best player wide receiver Michael Campanaro.
The Demon Deacons though. losers of their last three games, aren’t just going to roll over because the Blue Devils come into town. Quarterback Tanner Price is a very capable player and his mobility, has caused Duke problems in the past. Mobile quarterbacks in fact have at times shredded, even a substantially improved Blue Devils defense.
Duke who rediscovered its running game last week against Miami to the tune of 358 yards rushing, is likely going to attempt to duplicate that kind of success in order to set up the passing game. The Blue Devils will have to contend with Nikita Whitlock, who is one of the best defensive linemen in the ACC, if not the entire country.
The Blue Devils’ goal this week, according to Boone, st to try to get as many Duke blockers on him as possible, but that is never an easy task.
This game has always been a tough game for both teams and has typically been extremely competitive, being decided by one or fewer scores. Expect an increased level of intensity and urgency out of Wake Forest, as a loss would mean their bowl hopes are done. For Duke, they know a victory is required to reach their ultimate goal of an ACC Championship game appearance.
However, don’t look for the Blue Devils to overlook Wake in this one and their intensity on both sides of the ball should be very high as the motivation is still very high.
The line on this game is much closer than this prediction, but given how Duke is playing versus how Wake has struggled, I think the Blue Devils will take a close game early and break it open later.
Most likely the game will be much closer than the final score may indicate, but I think ultimately Duke is a better team right now and will prove it on the field.