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Beats' picks: Does Duke football have a chance to knock off No. 2 Clemson

<p>Duke's defense will need to be locked in against the Tigers.</p>

Duke's defense will need to be locked in against the Tigers.

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 Clemson Saturday:

Game predictions:

Ben Feder: Clemson 35-6

As Clemson’s senior class looks to cement itself in history with a conference-best 51st victory, I cannot imagine the Tigers not overwhelming a hobbled Blue Devil squad. With a ton of future first round NFL draft picks on its roster, Clemson will win easily, as its star-studded defensive line will be in Daniel Jones’ face the entire night.

Derek Saul: Clemson 42-20

Although Daniel Jones and Deon Jackson comprise what is Duke football’s most exciting offensive duo in a long time, a truly herculean performance from the two is needed for the Blue Devil offense to muster much of anything against the nation’s top scoring defense. I expect Clemson to absolutely blow Duke off the line on both sides of the ball, and a banged-up Blue Devil defense will not be able to slow down the Tigers.

Michael Model: Clemson 42-14

As astonishing as Daniel Jones’ rise to a potential first-round draft pick has been, Jones will not be able to lead Duke to a historic victory in Death Valley Saturday. The Blue Devils defense needs to be on from the opening kickoff in order to have a chance, and with Joe Giles-Harris still recovering from an MCL injury, Duke doesn’t have the force to do it. The Blue Devils could not record a sack nor a turnover against a 1-8 North Carolina team last week and they won’t fare any better against the No. 2 team in the nation. On the offensive side, Duke’s O-Line will need to be perfect against a physical Tiger line. That will not happen and the Blue Devil win streak will end at two.

Mitchell Gladstone: Clemson 35-17

I will tell you this: Duke is not a 28-point underdog. I know the Blue Devils’ offensive line is miserable and their secondary might be even worse, but Duke isn’t going to just let an opportunity like this slip through their grasp without a fight. That said, the Blue Devils have no shot to match Clemson’s powerful hooks and massive uppercuts—Jones just can’t do it all alone. I would not be surprised if Duke managed to hang within 10 at intermission, but the Tigers will pull away on Senior Night in South Carolina.

Winston Lindqwister: Clemson 45-10

This matchup makes me sad. If the Blue Devils had a healthy squad heading to Death Valley, I would argue that Duke could give the Tigers a run for their money. However, as it stands, the Blue Devils have lost too many key pieces to even hope to match up against the reigning leader of the ACC. At best, Duke should hope to minimize injuries—Clemson’s imposing defense will no doubt cut through the Blue Devils’ offensive line with ease and put Daniel Jones in constant danger. I don’t see any way Duke in its current state could come out with a win, and ultimately we’ll be left wondering about what could have been.

Overall results:

Ben Feder: 5-5

Derek Saul: 6-4

Michael Model: 5-5

Mitchell Gladstone: 7-3

Winston Lindqwister: 6-4


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