Will Duke football be able to keep its momentum rolling against NC State?
To say things didn’t go according to plan for the Duke football team early on in the 2020 season would be a huge understatement. Despite high hopes, the Duke Blue Devils dropped their first four games, looking rather rough in most of them.
Things finally turned around on Saturday when Duke got its first win of the season in a 38-24 road victory against Syracuse. This was largely due to impressive performances from backfield weapons Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant, who both rushed for 150 yards on Saturday.
Things will not get any easier for the Blue Devils, though, as they face a stout NC State team this week. While this may be a road game, the team will only have to travel half an hour to its destination in Raleigh.
NC State enters this matchup with a 3-1 record, coming off of two straight wins. The Wolfpack proved just what they’re capable of when they beat a ranked Pittsburgh team on the road two weeks ago. Dave Doeren’s squad had a disappointing 4-8 campaign last year, but the program seems to have gotten things turned back in the right direction.
Sure, the Blue Devils have as much momentum as they’ve had in a while. Can they keep things going and pick up their second win of the year?
Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Raleigh, N.C.
Venue: Carter-Finley Stadium
Keys to a Duke football victory
The Duke Blue Devils looked like a mess of a football program following a solid performance in a loss at Notre Dame. After a promising debut, quarterback Chase Brice seemed off, to say the least. Timing and composure just weren’t there, and the offensive line didn’t help much either.
The defense seemed to be strong early but saw a drop off in the following games, giving up 38 points to both Virginia and Virginia Tech. However, this is a result of key injuries on the defensive side of the ball, including cornerbacks Josh Blackwell and Mark Gilbert. If the Duke defense cannot step up, Wolfpack QB Devin Leary could have quite the day.
NC State’s defense isn’t exactly impenetrable, having given up an average of 34 points per game. This is something that Chase Brice and the Duke offense will have to take advantage of if they want to pick up their second win of the season.
Duke tight end Noah Gray has been this team’s leading receiver, catching 21 passes along with two touchdowns. His ability to both keep rushers out of the backfield and help pick up first downs will be crucial in this matchup.
Odds courtesy of ESPN PickCenter
Point Spread: NC State (-5)
If the Blue Devils play their cards right, they can snag a win on the road. However, this offense cannot afford to play as sloppily as they have this season. Even last week, the Duke defense gave up 24 points to a Syracuse team that had previously averaged just 11 points per game. It’s going to be difficult, but this Blue Devils defense has to step up and get key stops.
While Duke may have momentum from last week’s win, NC State has no shortage of that same driving force. In theory, the struggling defenses on both sides should result in a high-scoring affair in Raleigh. Look for the Blue Devils to play a solid game, but fall short in the end.
While a loss isn’t what any Duke football fan wants to see, a decent outing against a good team shouldn’t derail all hope for this team.
Predicted score: Duke 31, NC State 41
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