Running Game Key To Win Against Duke

The term "must win" is very over used in sports these days. It seems like almost every game on Saturday is called a "must win" for one of the two teams. However, it is not overstating it at all to call Saturday's game against Duke a must win for the Commodores.

Vandy is in the midst of a losing streak that has spanned more than two decades. They have had quite a few chances in that time to get the win that would end the streak but have come up short every time. With each game the Dores lose that would give them that sixth win, you can feel the pressure growing. A win on Saturday would not only give the Commodores that illusive sixth win, but could also vault them to make a strong late season run because they will be playing with less pressure.

The Duke Blue Devils are not the cupcake they looked like when this game first appeared on the schedule. David Cutcliffe, a coach that The Men in Black and Gold are very familiar with from his time at Tennessee and Ole Miss, has his team playing some very good football. They are averaging 25.7 points per game and have a balanced offensive attack.

The star for Duke has been quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. He has thrown for 1,101 yards with 9 touchdowns against just 3 interceptions. His favorite target is Eron Riley who has 29 catches for 336 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Commodores pass rush will be very important on Saturday to keep Lewis from having time to pick the secondary apart. The good news for the Dores in this game is that the secondary is the strength of the team. D.J. Moore will see a lot of time in coverage against Riley and should be able to limit his productivity.

While the strength of the Duke offense is the passing game, they are averaging 122.7 yards per game on the ground. Their starting running back, Clifford Harris, has 82 carries for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season. The Vandy front seven should be able to contain the rushing game and keep the Blue Devils in some third and long situations.

On offense the ground game will be the key to success for the Dores in this game. The Duke defense is giving up 160 yards per game on the ground. Jared Hawkins, who is coming off a solid performance against Georgia last week, should be in line for another good day. Look for the Commodores to line up and try to run the ball right at the Blue Devils early. If they can establish the running game it will open up some things down the field for Mackenzi Adams and keep the Devils' offense off the field.

Vanderbilt will be the better team when they take the field in Nashville on Saturday. If their offensive line can control the line of scrimmage and keep the Duke offense on the sideline, the Commodores will come away with their sixth win and get the monkey that has been this losing streak off their back.

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