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Duke vs. Clemson Preview

Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, November 17, 2018. 7:00 pm

Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina

Television: ESPN

Line: Duke +27

Last Time: Duke 20, Clemson 56.  The tenth ranked Tigers came into Wallace Wade Stadium six years ago and dropped 718 yards of offense on an overmatched Duke defense.  The Blue Devils were able to match the Tigers in the early going.  The teams traded scores over the first couple possessions with the score standing at 14-10 Clemson after a 77 yard catch and run for a touchdown by Jamison Crowder, but Clemson followed that with two more touchdowns before the first quarter came to close.  Duke was able to move the ball through the air, Sean Renfree totaled 240 passing yards and 1 touchdown, but they couldn’t do anything on the ground.  Clemson held Duke to just 85 yards rushing while amassing 339 rushing yards of their own.  Duke was able to intercept 3 Tajh Boyd passes on the day, but Duke simply couldn’t move the ball consistently on the Tigers to capitalize on the turnovers.  Jamison Crowder totaled 7 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown, but Duke couldn’t match they dynamic receiving corps of Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Martavis Bryant

Game Preview

It seems weird that two conference opponents could go six years in between matchups, but that’s the world we live in with multiple divisions and ever growing power conferences.  These two teams have changed quite a bit since their last matchup in 2012.  Both have been on an upward trajectory in recent years.  While Duke much more well rounded than they were the last time these teams got together, the Tigers are even more talented as well.  Much like the SEC has become Alabama and everyone else, the ACC has taken that to an even more extreme level with Clemson head and shoulders above every other team in the league.

The joke among Duke fans leading up to this game is rest all the starters and try not to let anyone else get injured.  It feels like Duke is losing at least 1 starter to injury per week, and that’s not too far from the truth.  Duke will be outmatched at nearly every position in this game, from a talent perspective.  The biggest task ahead for the staff and players is finding a way to keep Daniel Jones upright.  Clemson may have the most talented defensive line to ever play college football.  Duke’s offensive line has been inconsistent at best through most of the season and have been bailed out by Jones’ decision making and athleticism at times.  Look for Duke to scheme some extra blocking in the backfield and a lot of quick passes to get the ball out of Jones’ hands before the defensive line can get to him.  Duke fans have seen enough screen passes to last a lifetime, but insuring Jones’ health, both for the last 2 games of the season and the future is of highest importance.

Duke has been very susceptible to the run in recent weeks.  Pitt ran all over Duke and so did UNC before the defense tightened up in the second half last week.  Clemson has a balanced attack on offense and Duke will be down their leading safety, Dylan Singleton.  There is hope that Joe Giles-Harris will be able to return this week, but the staff isn’t going to take any chances of him injuring himself further.  Its going to take a near perfect game from everyone on the defensive depth chart to slow down the Tigers in Death Valley.