Despite the national ranking, despite the better record, a top 10 ranked defense and despite coming off a bye week Duke heads into its ACC Coastal showdown with Virginia Tech as an underdog.
In what used to be the battle of the Coastal’s best and worst teams, the annual Duke-Virginia Tech game has become a game that has helped shaped the fate of the division of late. Duke is seeking a win that would give them, once again credibility and a leg up in the division, while Virginia Tech is looking to regain its footing as the Coastal’s premier program.
The Blue Devils two years ago marched into Lane Stadium and defeated a ranked Virginia Tech in a game that was a spring-board on their way to the Coastal Division Championship. They hope to duplicate that outcome this year but the odds makers don’t like their chances apparently.
The Hokies have struggled but are getting back their starting quarterback, Michael Brewer while the Blue Devils are likely to be without two of their wide receivers Chris Taylor and Trevon Lee as well as starting defensive end Kyler Brown.
Brewer’s return and the home-field advantage of Lane Stadium was obviously enough to give the Hokies the odds makers’ advantage, however, this game is going to be a slug fest.
Duke brings in one of the top defenses in the conference and the best statistically in the division, a position familiar for Virginia Tech, but the Hokies have looked like a shell of the former selves and that has put a lot of pressure on Head Coach Frank Beamer.
The Blue Devils are hoping that their last outing against Army, which saw its much maligned offense net over 450 yards of total offense, continues to improve under first year starter Thomas Sirk. Duke is going to try to set the tempo with the run but Sirk must find his receivers downfield to help the offense keep the Hokies defense on it toes.
That won’t be an easy task with the injuries at wide receiver, though Duke will see Terrance Alls suit up for the first time this season after serving a suspension prior to the start of the season. How much Alls helps considering he hasn’t played a snap this season remains to be seen so Sirk will likely count on T.J. Rahming, and Anthony Nash.
Virginia Tech, coming off a tough loss at Miami, is looking to get back into the Coastal race and no better way than to knock off the Blue Devils, the most consistent program in the division over the last three seasons. The Hokies have the belief only having lost to Duke one time since their arrival in the ACC, but as Frank Beamer said earlier this week, this isn’t the same Duke program.
Duke-17 Virginia Tech-13
This should be a low scoring, physical affair but I think the bye week and the confidence that Duke possesses may be a bit much for the Hokies to overcome.