PREVIEW: Duke v. Wake Forest

The Blue Devils will take on Wake Forest in the regular season finale on Saturday afternoon in Winston Salem.  Duke will be looking to snap a four game losing streak while Wake Forest will be looking to end the season on a high note.

KEYS FOR DUKE

Explosive plays on both sides of the ball

For the last four weeks the Blue Devil defense - once thought to be among the nation’s best - have been torched by opponents taking shots down field and scoring lots of points accordingly.   Duke has surrendered 42 points per game over those games while allowing season and sometimes career best performances to opposing quarterbacks.  

But will that be the case for a Wake Forest team that will likely finish the season averaging less than 20 points per game?   Quarterbacks Kendall Hinton and John Wolford will both have opportunities, especially if the Blue Devils can’t generate a pass rush, something head coach David Cutcliffe worried about in this week’s press conference.  

Maturity

For the duration of the Cutcliffe rebuild of the once dormant Duke Football program there have been players who experienced the pre-Cutcliffe era.  Those elder statesmen were well versed when it came to losing games and thus understood the value of what the new coach had brought to Durham.  

But that classification of player is gone.  Everyone on the Duke roster has enjoyed continued and sustained success for the duration of their careers.  Could that be a reason for the team’s recent slide?  Since the theft by Miami (and the ACC) four weeks ago, the team has undergone several negative experiences including: (1) the coaches suggesting fragility, (2) Dismissing three players for undisclosed reasons, and (3) finding different ways to lose each week.  For a program that Coach Cutcliffe insisted was as healthy as it’s ever been, Duke certainly seems to have lost its way over the last month.  

Righting the ship in the final regular season game and entering the post season with some semblance of momentum would not only be a welcomed turnaround for this team, but also a validation of their coach’s beliefs.  

PREDICTION

This is a game both teams need to win.  For Wake Forest, the team has shown flashes of regaining respectability and is playing for pride again an in-state rival.    For Duke, the Blue Devils haven’t won in a month and need to get a seventh win to, hopefully, get a more palatable bowl berth.   Duke simply must generate a pass rush and limit explosive plays.  If the Blue Devils can do that, they should win.   But, if the last four weeks are any indication, it’s going to be an uphill battle.  We’ve got faith in Cutcliffe and believe he’ll have the team ready to rebound and head into the post season with some momentum.  The pick is…

Duke 30
Wake Forest 21


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