Nov. 23, 12:00, ESPN2
Why You Should Give A Hoot: The magic in Durham shows no sign of abating. Duke has emerged as the story of the year in the ACC, riding a six-game winning streak into the Coastal Division penthouse. The Blue Devils hammered Miami out of the rankings on Saturday, catapulting into the Top 25 for the first time since 1994. In the divisional logjam to determine who'll face Florida State on Dec. 7, Duke will padlock its spot in the league title game by winning the next two games. Wake Forest is limping to the finish line, losers of its last two games. The Demon Deacons can still claw their way to a bowl berth this month, but winning back-to-back games is a little tougher for this squad than it appears on paper.
Why Duke Might Win: The Blue Devils are no longer content. They believe and they're confident, powerful intangibles for a program unaccustomed to sustained excellence. Duke has options on offense, while Wake Forest looks lost without linchpin WR Michael Campanaro. Blue Devil coordinator Kurt Roper is pushing all of the right buttons, deftly employing quarterbacks Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone. Connette's scrambling ability will be a problem for the Deacons, especially after he rushed for four of his team-high 12 touchdowns in the Miami win.
Why Wake Forest Might Win: When Florida State and Clemson aren't in the other locker room, the Deacon defense has kept this program in games all season long. In Wake Forest's other eight games, it did not allow more than 24 points, an impressive fueled by the gap-busting of NG Nikita Whitlock and the cover skills of cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel. The Duke passing game has been just erratic enough for the offense to have trouble against the underrated Wake Forest defense.
Who To Watch Out For: Blue Devil WR Jamison Crowder versus those Wake Forest corners will be one of the better games-within-the-game of the afternoon. Crowder has next-level talent, lagging behind only Clemson's Sammy Watkins in ACC receiving yards.
- A week off isn't enough time for Wake Forest to mine new targets for QB Tanner Price. The Deacons have slipped to 115th nationally in scoring in part because the attack is utterly impotent without Campanaro running patterns.
- The Duke linebackers have been outstanding this season, supporting a run defense that's improved over time. Kelby Brown is coming off a monster game against the Hurricanes, amassing 17 tackles in a game for the second time this fall.
What Will Happen: On the road. At a rested rival. The week after cracking the Top 25 for the first time in 25 years. This is not an easy game for Duke or its head coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils will survive on the strength of their offense and their general momentum, but the upset could be in play in Winston-Salem long beyond halftime.
Prediction: Duke 28 … Wake Forest 20
Line: Duke -5.5 o/u: 49.5