The Army Black Knights (3-1) will meet the Duke Blue Devils (2-3) at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, this Saturday. Army has had an extra week to prepare for the Blue Devils after falling 23-20 to Buffalo last time out. The Black Knights were controlling that game at halftime, only to see the lead fade away and then losing in overtime. Let's see how Army stacks up in the head to head against an ACC foe.
ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
DUKE PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: This is a tie, but only because Army doesn't really pass the ball. The Duke passing defense has been torched in each of the past two weeks. Against Notre Dame the Blue Devils allowed DeShone Kizer to pass for 381 and a touchdown, but it was seen as being acceptable as Kizer is a legitimate NFL prospect. The defense then bottomed out last week as they allowed Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert to pass for 336 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception. If Army wants to pass the ball on Duke, they probably can.
ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
DUKE RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Army rushing offense was working like clockwork through the first three games of the season. It hit a little bit of a speedbump in the game against Buffalo, but after a week of for players to get healthy and schemes to be set, there is no reason to think a decent, but not spectacular, Duke, rushing defense should stop the Black Knights. Andy Davidson is still going to be the man the whole offense revolves around and his 14 yards and six touchdowns on the season bode well in this match up.
DUKE PASSING OFFENSE
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Much of this depends on exactly what version of the Duke passing offense is going to show up against Army. In the game against Notre Dame, freshman quarterback Daniel Jones was 24 of 32 for 290 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Obviously, these are good numbers for any quarterback, let alone a freshman against the Irish. The very next weekend against Virginia however, Jones threw for another 324 yards, but he also was picked off FIVE times while throwing for just one score. Ups and downs are part of the game with a freshman quarterback, but Army should be good enough in the secondary to pick off some passes against an inaccurate thrower.
DUKE RUSHING OFFENSE
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Army rushing defense has been an important component of the Black Knights hot start. The defensive line play has been solid, but it is the pay of the linebacking corps that has given Army a platform to build on defensively each week. Army should have the manpower to stop the Blue Devils when they attempt to run the ball, but if senior running back Jela Duncan is healthy to play then Army will have to beware. Duke always wins when Duncan hits the 100-yard mark and he has 314 yards and four touchdowns on the season despite missing game time.
REMARKS: Duke lost a massive part of their special teams advantage when one of the best returners in the ACC, and maybe one of the best in the country, Devon Edwards tore his knee to pieces against Notre Dame. On thing to note on special teams is that neither school can rely on their kicker. AJ Reed of Duke is just 3 for 6 on field goals for the year, while the two Army kickers are a combined 4 for 8 this season. If it goes to overtime we could be in for a long day.
REMARKS: Jeff Monken has been good for Army this year. He seems to mostly be making the right calls in game planning and in-game decisions, though the Buffalo loss will certainly be painful as it was a game the head coach would have expected to be able to manage with Army in the lead. David Cutcliffe at Duke, however, is at another level. Duke is one of those schools you aren't supposed to be able to win at as it is a basketball school playing football. Cutcliffe took a perennially awful program and has been bowling with them for each of the last four seasons.
REMARKS: The extra week the Black Knights had to prepare cannot be understated here, especially as Army was coming off of such a bad loss. With that added time, Monken has been able to use that loss as motivation rather than let it eat at the players. Duke is coming off a bad loss of its own as the Blue Devils turned the ball over six times against Virginia. Not having that extra week meant the Blue Devils had to try to put that game to bed and then focus on the option offense in a very short space of time.
PREDICTION: Army 35, Duke 21. I am pretty sure Army is more like the team that destroyed UTEP than the one that lost to Buffalo. Similarly, I think Duke will have more games like the one against Virginia than the one against Notre Dame. If both those feelings are true then Army will win this one by a couple of scores.