Duke takes on Virginia in Durham, hoping to avoid a hangover from the monumental Notre Dame victory. UVa is coming off a 49-35 victory over Central Michigan, the Cavs’ first win of the season and Coach Bronco Mendenhall’s 100th career win.
This year, Virginia is a decent offensive team with a poor defense. They’ve given up 300 passing yards per game, and 32 points per game. They have managed to produce 10 sacks, and will likely try to pressure Duke’s freshman QB Daniel Jones. Of course, if Jones gets it out in <2.8 seconds like he did against Notre Dame, the rush can’t get to him. Virginia also has multiple injuries in the secondary.
Unfortunately for Duke, Jela Duncan is out with a leg injury. He was instrumental in the Notre Dame win. This throws off the run game, which means Duke risks finding itself in a scenario similar to the Northwestern game, where the total lack of run game hindered the offense. Alternatively, Shaun Wilson could have a breakout game, or Jones may draw on his confidence from the ND win and have an even more impressive offensive performance.
Speaking of offense and quarterbacks, UVa has a decent one in Kurt Benkert. He’s got 10 touchdown passes to five picks on the year, with a completion percentage of 60%. With Devon Edwards out, he may have fun with the Duke secondary. Luckily, Benkert isn’t a dual-threat quarterback and UVa doesn’t run the ball very much at all, which means Duke should be able to largely focus on stopping the pass. The Duke defense played fairly well with Singleton and Edwards each out for parts of the game, so it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
UVa has had kicking troubles, like Duke, and has tried two placekickers this year. Each has missed an extra point, and Alex Furbank has gone 1-2 on the team’s field goal attempts. Virginia essentially can’t trust anyone outside 30 yards, which is similar to Duke’s situation. Also, Duke loses kick returner Devon Edwards, but Wilson will fill in just fine.
ESPN is giving the advantage to Duke in this one. If the Blue Devils can replicate last week’s performance, they’ll be able to move over .500.