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Beats' picks: Can the Blue Devil offense keep up with Baylor's explosiveness?

<p>The Blue Devils have held opponents scoreless in the fourth quarter in seven straight contests.</p>

The Blue Devils have held opponents scoreless in the fourth quarter in seven straight contests.

Prior to each Duke football game, The Chronicle’s Ben Feder, Derek Saul, Michael Model, Mitchell Gladstone and Winston Lindqwister make their predictions for the contest and we’ll track their records throughout the season. Here are their takes on the Blue Devils’ matchup with Baylor Saturday:

Game predictions:

Ben Feder: 28-17 Baylor

Losing both Daniel Jones and Mark Gilbert will be too much for the Blue Devils to overcome in with just one week of preparation, and Duke will suffer its first loss against an improved Baylor team from last season’s matchup. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Devils struggle to move the ball, even against a Bears unit that hasn’t done much to impress thus far.

Derek Saul: 20-17 Duke

This game will by no means be pretty, but I think Duke will be able to claw out a win in Waco, Texas. The Blue Devils were able to tear up Baylor’s defense on the ground last year, and I expect Brittain Brown and Deon Jackson to carry the offense, especially with Jones’ absence. A Duke defensive unit that is expected to be elite will need to clamp down on Baylor’s impressive arsenal of skill position players.

Michael Model: 31-27 Duke

Expect a high scoring affair with Baylor’s physical and explosive offense going against an inexperienced Blue Devil secondary after the loss to Gilbert—every offensive touchdown from the teams' matchup a year ago was at least 30 yards. While this is clearly an advantage for Baylor, Duke’s fourth quarter defense will be the difference. If the Blue Devils can clamp down for a 15-20 minute period, Quentin Harris and Duke’s offense will be able to muster enough to earn the win. 

Mitchell Gladstone: 27-21 Duke

I’m not particularly confident in this pick—Harris has yet to show he can throw the ball down the field and despite its strong pace, Duke’s defense isn’t likely to keep holding defense to one or two scores. That said, the Blue Devils know they need this win, especially with a hard schedule ahead, and Duke racked up nearly 250 rushing yards when Baylor came to Durham last season. Give me all the option offense, and I think the combination of Brown, Jackson and Harris will get the Blue Devils just enough points to come home 3-0.

Winston Lindqwister: 24-14 Duke

Yes, losing Jones and Gilbert will be a blow, but I still think Duke has more than enough talent to handle Baylor. The Bears have a notoriously weak run defense—an easy target for an offense propped up by running backs Brown and Deon Jackson. Although Harris is seriously lacking in terms of experience, he’ll be facing one of the easier defenses of Duke’s coming slate. Baylor has made a name for themselves with explosive plays, but even without Gilbert the Blue Devils secondary will be able to react and adapt to whatever the Bears throw at them.

Overall results:

Ben Feder: 1-1

Derek Saul: 2-0

Michael Model: 2-0

Mitchell Gladstone: 2-0

Winston Lindqwister: 1-1

Michael Model

Digital Strategy Director for Vol. 115, Michael was previously Sports Editor for Vol. 114 and Assistant Blue Zone Editor for Vol. 113.  Michael is a senior majoring in Statistical Science and is interested in data analytics and using data to make insights.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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