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Duke Blown Out By Virginia 48-0

Things got ugly in Charlottesville

NCAA Football: Duke at Virginia
 Oct 16, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers wide receiver Ra’Shaun Henry (2) is forced out of bounds by Duke Blue Devils safety Lummie Young IV (23) after catching a pass during the second quarter at Scott Stadium.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Did Duke football hit rock bottom in Saturday’s 48-0 loss to Virginia?

It was pretty bad, a complete beat-down.

We all suspected that the only way Duke could come back from Charlottesville with a victory was to win a shootout. Better defenses than Duke’s have struggled to slow down Virginia’s marvelous quarterback Brennan Armstrong. But the Virginia defense had allowed 59 points to North Carolina, 39 to Wake Forest, 33 to Louisville.

So, a shootout was the order of the day.

Unfortunately, Duke’s offense didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Not even close. Poor red-zone execution, penalties, turnovers, special-teams miscues, recurring problems that just haven’t been fixed; you’ve probably memorized the list by now.

And Armstrong was as good as advertised, 364 passing yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions.

And that was in three quarters. Backup Jay Woolfolk finished it up after the Cavaliers took a 41-0 lead into the final quarter.

The result was Duke’s seventh-consecutive loss to Virginia, David Cutcliffe dropping to 0-7 against Bronco Mendenhall. It was Duke’s eighth-straight ACC loss, third straight loss this season. Duke drops to 3-4 overall, with an open date looming and more problems to fix than one open weekend seems likely to fix.

Duke actually was competitive for a few minutes. Virginia took an early 3-0 lead but Duke responded with a drive that seemed poised to produce points. Mataeo Durant ran for 24 yards on 3rd and 1, setting Duke up at the Virginia 11. But Gunnar Holmberg’s third-down pass sailed right through Jake Bobo’s hands.

The pass had some zip on it. But Bobo has the best hands on the team and he didn’t catch it.

This was the high-water mark of the game for Duke.

Charlie Ham missed two field goals last week against Georgia Tech so Duke decided to give backup Matt Alswanger a chance. He’s a grad-student transfer from Tufts. Alswanger’s 25-yarder clanked off the left upright.

Cutcliffe said Duke would have gone back to Ham after that Alswanger miss.

The game spiraled out of control after that. Virginia scored every single possession of the first half, four touchdowns and two field goals.