NC State and their downright dastardly defense head to Durham to duel Duke under the lights on Saturday night. The Wolfpack are coming off their best offensive performance of the year in a win over Marshall, a game which saw a shift at the quarterback position pay immediate returns with explosive plays from both the run and pass game. State’s defense allowed 34 points in that affair with the Thundering Herd. Despite the effort being better than the surface numbers would indicate, the Wolfpack’s defenders are sure to want to have a bounce-back showing in this one.
Duke is having themselves quite the season, entering the contest ranked #17 in the nation and coming off a well-timed bye week. In their last outing, a late loss to Notre Dame, star QB Riley Leonard went down in the final minutes of the game with an ankle injury, putting a damper on what has been a fantastic first half of the season. With games against NC State, Florida State, Louisville, Wake Forest, and North Carolina over the next month, the health of their offensive leader will be critical in determining if this is merely a very good season for Duke or something truly magical.
The bye week not only gave Leonard time to rest his ankle, it also gave Mike Elko and the Duke staff an opportunity to prepare backup QB Henry Belvin IV, a redshirt freshman, to potentially make his first career start at the collegiate level. Regardless of who is leading the offensive charge, the Blue Devils defense - a group allowing just 11.2 points per game this year - is one of the best in the country and will keep the team in any contest.
Can NC State’s offense orchestrate another outstanding offensive output in leading the Wolfpack to an upset victory? Or will the Blue Devils rally around their banged-up and/or wet-behind-the-ears QB to keep the momentum going on their season?
Each BTP contributor provides their score prediction below, plus a quick blurb on their predicted outcome. Here we go!
Prediction: 20-29 (L)
Comment: “beep boop“
Prediction: 20-30 (L)
Comment: “I’ve been way off on these all year and SP+ has been good, so I’ll go with the computatin’ machine in an effort to jinx said machine and remain way off.“
Why is this so hard?
Prediction: 20-14 (W)
Comment: “Duke goes up 7-0 on its first drive. Pack down 7-6 at the half but slowly takes command before a late score brings Duke to within 6. Offense gets a first down to run out the clock AND TAKES A KNEE. (Seriously, do better this week, Miami.)”
Prediction: 24-21 (W)
Comment: “To BE the MAN, you have to BEAT the MAN…but sounds like Duke won’t be living the life of Riley this week. Defense makes then 1 dimensional, offense finds chances on the ground“
Prediction: 21-24 (L)
Comment: “Last week I said the new-look offense needed prove something against a good defense. Now I need them to prove to me they can do something against a top 25 opponent.“
Prediction: 18-17 (W)
Comment: “Changing my tune from my initial prediction (a 3-point loss). State’s defense does the job against a Leonard-less Duke O. The Duke D is legit, but State scores a TD late and Doeren shows some big balls and goes for 2 and the win.“
BTP Staff Cumulative Prediction: 21-23 (L)
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments!