The Duke Blue Devils have their backs up against the wall as they get set to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a battle of Tobacco Road rivals. Game time is set for 7:30 EST on Saturday, November 23 at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Fans can catch all of the action on the ACC Network.
Current betting odds list Wake Forest as 7-point favorites at home with an over/under of 52 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s college football betting odds.
Despite losing to Alabama in their season opener, the Blue Devils got off to a promising start this season. Duke sat at 4-2 at the midway point of the season and looked like a possible contender in the ACC Coastal Division. However, everything has fallen apart since then for David Cutcliffe’s team. The Blue Devils are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, including blowout losses to Notre Dame and Syracuse the past two weeks. Duke has played in six bowl games in the last seven years, but they are in danger missing out this year. The Blue Devils have no choice but to beat both Wake Forest and Miami to close out the season if they hope to qualify for a bowl.
Wake Forest has experienced a different kind of disappointment during the second half of the season. The Demon Deacons started the season 5-0 and were 7-1 and ranked in the top-25 at one point. Alas, back-to-back blowout losses to Virginia Tech and Clemson have brought Wake Forest back down to earth in a hurry. Once again, the Demon Deacons are just another ACC team in the middle of the pack. On the bright side, with a 7-3 record, Wake has a chance to win 10 games for the first time since their magical 2006 season. Of course, that means beating both Duke and Syracuse to close out the regular season.
Despite playing in different divisions, Duke and Wake Forest are yearly rivals in the ACC who have played virtually every season since 1921. The Blue Devils own a big lead in the all-time series and have also gotten the better of the Demon Deacons for most of the current decade, winning five of the last seven games in this rivalry. However, the Demon Deacons beat the Blue Devils 59-7 in last year’s game, giving Duke a lot to prove in this year’s matchup.
Both of these teams have struggled in recent weeks, but I think Wake Forest is more likely to bounce back. The Demon Deacons have lost to the two teams that will probably end up in the ACC Championship Game. Meanwhile, Duke was blasted a week ago by a Syracuse team that’s 4-6. Right now, the Blue Devils look dead in the water, so I’ll lean toward Wake covering in a lopsided home win against their rivals, much like last year.
Obviously, Wake quarterback Jamie Newman has had a couple of rough weeks against Virginia Tech and Clemson. But before that, he had been in the midst of a breakout season. Interceptions have been an issue for him against ACC opponents. But there’s no doubting that Newman has the arm talent to push the ball downfield and put up big numbers. Even with leading receiver Sage Surratt out for the season, the Demon Deacons still have a pair of receivers in Kendall Hinton and Scotty Washington who can give the Blue Devils trouble.
I also think Cade Carney and the Wake rushing attack have a good chance to get going this week. Carney has had a hard time replicating the production of last year when he ran for over 1,000 yards. However, the Duke defense was gashed on the ground last week by a Syracuse team that hasn’t been able to run against anyone this year. If the Wake offensive line can get a little more of a push than what they’ve gotten in most games this year, Carney could find plenty of running room.
On the other side of the ball, the Duke offense has turned into an utter disaster. The Blue Devils haven’t been able to establish a reliable rushing attack during their four-game losing streak. At the same time, quarterback Quentin Harris isn’t nearly good enough of a passer to cope with such a lackluster running game. Over the last four games, he’s thrown six interceptions and been sacked 11 times. He’s also averaging four yards per pass attempt over his last two games. Admittedly, the Wake defense has had some bad games, especially recently. But they should be good enough to handle a Duke offense that’s struggling for answers and has just 13 points over their last two games.
At this point, I have no faith in the Duke offense to get going. It’s hard to imagine them scoring much more than 10 points in this game. The Blue Devils aren’t getting much help from their defense either. Even if Wake Forest doesn’t play their best game, they should be able to win at home. I’m also not too worried about the Demon Deacons covering the 7-point spread.