Oct. 11, 12:30, ACC Network
Here's The Deal: There are 10 remaining unbeaten FBS programs. Improbably, Georgia Tech is one of the unblemished few. The Yellow Jackets have been outstanding closers so far in 2014, outscoring opponents, 52-23, in the critical final quarter of games. Among Tech’s victims are Virginia Tech and Miami, so a victory this week over Duke would position it extremely well in the Coastal Division. The Blue Devils can ill-afford another ACC loss if they hope to repeat as divisional champs. Duke has already bowed to the ‘Canes in a lackluster performance leading up to last weekend’s bye.
Why Duke Might Win: A week away from football couldn’t come at a better time for the Blue Devils. It’s afforded them an opportunity to rest, heal and prepare for Georgia Tech’s triple-option. Duke has been sound all year on D, even in the Miami loss, giving up just 13 points per game. The team is clutch on third downs, and flush with back seven playmakers, like LB David Helton, S Jeremy Cash and CB Devon Edwards.
Why Georgia Tech Might Win: The weakest area of the Duke D is its run defense. Oops. The Blue Devils are last in the ACC against the run, a problem with triple-option-based Tech next on the schedule. QB Justin Thomas has been operating Paul Johnson system beautifully, both as a runner and an occasional passer. Duke, on the contrary, has offensive issues that need to be addressed. It flopped versus a mediocre Miami defense two weeks, and QB Anthony Boone hasn’t thrown a touchdown strike since Sept. 13.
Who To Watch Out For: Regardless of what Boone does Saturday afternoon, the Yellow Jackets will need to pay close attention to backs behind him. Duke is averaging six yards a carry, spearheaded by explosive rookie RB Shaun Wilson. Tech has been very generous in run defense this fall, so it’s up to the three guys in the middle, LB Quayshawn Nealy and tackles Adam Gotsis and Shawn Green, to keep the play in front of them
What’s Going To Happen: Don’t sleep on Duke, especially with David Cutcliffe getting the luxury of two weeks to prepare. And Georgia Tech isn’t nearly as pristine as the record indicates. But the Yellow Jackets are on a little roll, and the Blue Devils got taken down a peg in Miami two weeks ago. Tech has another close win in it before hitting the road for back-to-back games.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 28 … Duke 23
Line: Georgia Tech -4 o/u: 58