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Beats' picks: Can Duke football stop Pittsburgh's explosive run game?

<p>Daniel Jones has struggled to spark the Duke offense since the third quarter against Georgia Tech.</p>

Daniel Jones has struggled to spark the Duke offense since the third quarter against Georgia Tech.

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 Pittsburgh Saturday:

Game predictions:

Ben Feder: Pittsburgh 30-20

I don’t think everyone realizes how much is at stake this weekend in Pittsburgh. If Duke loses this game, it is staring 5-5 in the face with road games against Miami and Clemson in the following weeks. I’m going to say that it’s more of the same from last year with the Blue Devils, as they will have to fight down to the wire to qualify for bowl eligibility this season.

Derek Saul: Duke 24-21

Coming off of a deflating home loss to a mediocre Virginia squad, the Blue Devils will be fighting to maintain any sort of ACC relevance this week. Despite a plethora of injuries, I expect Duke to rebound this weekend. Last year, Pittsburgh pulled out a victory over the Blue Devils largely due to two Darrin Hall touchdown runs of 70 or more yards, and Duke has been able to limit these types of explosive plays thus far in 2018. 

Michael Model: Duke 38-28

The Blue Devils offense has looked lost in seven of its last eight quarters of play—the exception being the third quarter against Georgia Tech. However, Duke and Pittsburgh have put up Big 12 scoring numbers in the past and Daniel Jones will show why he’s a potential top-10 draft prospect with a breakout performance against a dismal passing defense. The Blue Devils are much better defending the rush than all three conference foes the Panthers have faced this season, which is why I think Duke can outpace Pittsburgh and get a must needed road win.

Mitchell Gladstone: Pittsburgh 21-17

A shocker, right? I’ve picked Duke every game this season, and it’s gotten me pretty far. That said, I just don’t see it with the Blue Devil offense right now. The pass catchers have given me no reason to think they will be able to consistently get open and the line in front of Daniel Jones is just bad. Duke is asking a lot of Jones right now, especially since the line is doing nothing to help the run game. And with the defense so banged up against a Pitt team that beat Syracuse, gave Notre Dame a run for its money and is rested coming off an open date, I’ll take the Panthers.

Winston Lindqwister: Pittsburgh 28-14

As of now, I have trouble seeing this Duke team ending with more than seven wins on the season, and I don’t see a win coming against Pitt. With both the offensive and defensive line losing key members over the past couple weeks, the Blue Devils will be hard pressed to stop explosive runs and generate big plays on their own. The Panthers are a physical team that will require Duke’s run defense to be top notch, and I just don’t see the Blue Devils’ second and third stringers coming together to take down a team that had matchups against multiple top-25 opponents under its belt. The Panthers will be playing with the desperation of making it to a bowl game as the season closes, and will likely move one step closer with a win against Duke.

Overall results:

Ben Feder: 3-4

Derek Saul: 5-2

Michael Model: 4-3

Mitchell Gladstone: 5-2

Winston Lindqwister: 4-3

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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