The Duke Blue Devils are off to a 4-0 start for only the 17th time in program history. Here's what the rest of their season could look like.
Above: Baylor’s Dru Dixon battles Duke’s Joe Giles-Harris (44) for yardage earlier this season at Wallace Wade Stadium. Photo from the Herald-Sun.
The Duke Blue Devils are off to a 4-0 start for only the 17th time in program history and the first time since 2014.
Although Duke hasn’t played the toughest of competition thus far, they have looked awfully impressive. The Blue Devils (ranked 11th in country in total defense) are led by their elite defense, which has held opponents to just 4.57 yards per play. What is even more impressive is Duke’s ability to defend the run. The group is allowing teams a mere 65.3 rushing yards per game — good for second in the nation.
Pairing with their stout defense is an offense that continues to hit on all gears. The Blue Devils are averaging 470 total yards and 40.5 points per game. The running back duo of senior Shaun Wilson and redshirt freshman Brittain Brown are spearheading a rushing attack that also ranks in the top-25 nationally.
Duke has already matched their win total from last season (4-8) and looks poised to make a bowl appearance for the fifth time in the David Cutcliffe era. Many people surrounding the program are now wondering what the ceiling for this team could be.
Let’s take a look ahead at their remaining schedule:
9/29: No. 14 Miami Hurricanes
Prediction: W; Miami entered the season as the clear favorite to win the ACC’s coastal division. However, that race could shake up early if the Blue Devils pull an upset in this Friday night showdown. Hurricanes junior running back Mark Walton will challenge an elite Duke rush defense but I think Duke will do just enough to just slip by the Canes.
10/7: @ Virginia Cavaliers
Prediction: W; Virginia went 2-10 just a season ago, with one of their only wins coming against Duke in Durham. The Blue Devils probably haven’t forgot that loss and out for revenge against a Cavaliers team that simply just doesn’t have the talent to make noise in the Coastal division.
10/14: Florida State Seminoles
Prediction: L; Florida State is without its star quarterback, redshirt sophomore Deondre Francois, who went down with a season-ending injury in their opener. However, even in a loss to NC State, true-freshman quarterback James Blackman didn’t look bad. With two more games before this one, Blackman should have time to settle in and become comfortable as the Seminoles’ signal caller. FSU should be able to get the job done in Wallace Wade.
10/21: Pittsburgh Panthers
Prediction: W; Pittsburgh was straight-up exposed against Georgia Tech in its ACC opener. Georgia Tech gashed the Panthers defense for 436 yards on the ground. Duke’s dynamic duo of Wilson and Brown, along with redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Jone’s playmaking ability will help the Blue Devils secure this win at home.
10/28: @ No. 12 Virginia Tech Hokies
Prediction: L; Blacksburg is no easy place to play. It also doesn’t help Duke that redshirt freshman Josh Jackson has been on fire to start the season. Jackson is averaging 282 passing yards and senior Hokie wide receiver Cam Phillips has already racked up 523 receiving yards on the year. Virginia Tech on the road will ultimately be too much to handle for the Blue Devils.
11/11: @ Army Black Knights
Prediction: W; Army has already dropped two games — one in a blowout to Ohio State, and the other in a close loss to Tulane. The Blue Devils, outside of Ohio State, will be the toughest opponent Army will face all season. Duke should win this game comfortably.
11/18: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Prediction: L; Georgia Tech has looked good so far this season. The Yellow Jackets are currently number one in the nation in rushing offense with 394 yards on the ground per game. This will be a huge test for Duke, who is one of the best at stopping the run. I believe Duke will let this one slip by them and fall narrowly to a Georgia Tech team that could very much find itself atop the coastal race come end of the season.
11/25: @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Prediction: W; Wake Forest is off to a 4-0 start, as well. However, the Demon Deacons looked vulnerable against App State last weekend – Wake barely escaped with a 20-19 win. App State threw for over 350 yards and rushed for over 100 yards against the Deacons. Duke is a different beast this year and should win comfortably against Wake Forest.
Regular season record: 9-3