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 Virginia Saturday:
Ben Feder: Duke 23-14
Even without former All-American safety Quin Blanding, Virginia’s defensive backs are just as good, with two studs in Juan Thornhill and Bryce Hall. Once again, the Cavaliers defense will have Jones’ number, but the rest of the offense will pick it up around him to get just enough points behind Duke’s smothering defense.
Derek Saul: Duke 27-17
Virginia’s weak pass rush will allow Daniel Jones ample time to pick apart their defense, and the signal caller has excelled with time in the pocket this season. On the other side of the ball, the Cavaliers do not impose a major threat, especially in the passing game. Last week, Bryce Perkins gained just 92 yards through the air with no touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Michael Model: Duke 21-17
The Blue Devils have been dominant stopping the run this season and dual-threat quarterback Perkins has shown vulnerability when in the pocket, throwing seven interceptions on the season. But, the difference for Duke will be Jones’ improved decision-making. Jones has been more confident and efficient this season and if that carries over to Saturday’s contest, the Blue Devils should break their cold stretch against Virginia.
Mitchell Gladstone: Duke 31-20
Here are two numbers I don’t think Jones forgets: five interceptions and a 33.3 completion percentage. Those stats come from the Blue Devils’ last two matchups against the Cavaliers, and although I don’t think Jones comes anywhere close to that ugly passing stat from 2017, he could be in trouble if his offensive line doesn’t shape up soon. That said, Jones has looked like he’s close to 100 percent after fracturing his clavicle last month—he’ll get revenge on Virginia with four total touchdowns and a completion percentage better than 70.
Winston Lindqwister: Duke 17-14
I think it’s high time Jones notches a win against the Cavaliers. In past years, Virginia’s defense made an embarrassment of the redshirt junior quarterback while former Cavalier quarterback Kurt Benkert picked holes in Duke’s normally solid secondary. However, Jones has proven time and again this season that he can operate with extreme precision while under pressure in the pocket, and I doubt he’ll let Virginia ruin his passing game on Saturday. I predict Jones will still have some struggles, but overall will eke out a win against a team that has terrorized the Blue Devils throughout his tenure.
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Ben Feder: 3-3
Derek Saul: 5-1
Michael Model: 4-2
Mitchell Gladstone: 5-1
Winston Lindqwister: 4-2