Sept. 24, 3:30, ESPNU
Here's The Deal … Duke and Tulane are both coming off refrigerator-material victories, which happens about as frequently as a solar eclipse. The Blue Devils defeated Boston College, 20-19, on the road, winning for the first time in 2011. It was a much-needed victory for the beleaguered program that opened with deflating losses to Richmond and Stanford. To have a prayer of reaching bowl-eligibility, this is the kind of game that Duke must have.
The Green Wave's victory was arguably an even bigger surprise, a 49-10 whooping of UAB in Birmingham. It was one of the most complete games under Bob Toledo, an era marked by inconsistency and futility. If Tulane can move two games above .500 on the backs of an ACC team—any ACC team—it can seriously start thinking about a postseason run for the first time in a decade.
Why Tulane Might Win: The Green Wave's confidence is sky high after thoroughly dismantling the Blazers. For a change, it delivered on offense and defense, outgaining its host 540-193. Best of all, Tulane showcased unusual balance with the ball, getting a razor sharp effort from QB Ryan Griffin and the evolving running game. Griffin was almost perfect through the air, going 22-of-26 for 281 yards and three touchdowns as he spread the ball around to 10 different receivers. If this group can stay hot, it's going to present all kinds of problems to a mediocre Blue Devils defense that's having problems getting pressure.
Why Duke Might Win: Ironically, the Blue Devils have a little head of steam on D as well, limiting Boston College to two touchdowns and just 81 rushing yards on 25 carries. The combination of DE Kenny Anunike, LB Kelby Brown and S Matt Daniels has started to mesh, providing leadership to the younger defenders on the squad. If history rings true, Tulane's stalwart defensive effort will be fleeting. The Green Wave figures to have a tough time handling a maturing Duke passing game that's led by QB Sean Renfree. The junior has access to a deep and gifted corps of receivers comprised of TE Cooper Helfet and wide receivers Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner and Brandon Braxton.
What To Watch Out For: Which of these two defenses is capable of stringing two solid efforts in-a-row? Stopping the other guys has been an ongoing problem for both programs for many years, but Week 3 brought a sliver of hope in Durham and New Orleans. The offenses bring hope, with Renfree and his receivers at Duke, and Griffin and RB Orleans Darkwa at Tulane. However, neither school will truly turn the corner until the defenses can consistently carry a little more weight.
What Will Happen: This is going to be an interesting meeting because of the unpredictable nature of both participants. Plus, back-to-back wins will qualify as a bona fide accomplishment for the victor. The matchup between Griffin and Renfree will be a good one that produces 500 yards and four touchdowns through the air. The Blue Devils, with their more dangerous and polished receivers, will provide the difference in a game dictated by the passing attacks.
CFN Prediction: Duke 29 … Tulane 23