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 North Carolina Saturday:
Ben Feder: Duke 35-14
In past years, this would be a game Duke would be destined to lose. However, with veterans gunning for the best bowl game they can get into, the Blue Devils will start out hot, cruising past North Carolina for the third straight year.
Derek Saul: Duke 34-17
Although North Carolina will certainly step it up against their rivals, I don’t think the Tar Heels have what it takes to upset the Blue Devils. I expect Deon Jackson to run all over the weak North Carolina run defense, and the Blue Devils to cruise to victory.
Michael Model: Duke 21-14
Duke has had the Tar Heels’ number over the last two seasons and coming off perhaps the biggest victory since the Blue Devils’ takedown of then-No. 17 North Carolina in 2016 last weekend, I expect that momentum to carry over. That being said, the Tar Heels have been on the verge of numerous ACC upsets against foes like Syracuse and Virginia Tech, and likely will keep this contest tight throughout. However, with a game at Clemson next weekend, this is a must-win for Duke and I think the better team, which is the Blue Devils, will prevail Saturday.
Mitchell Gladstone: Duke 24-16
Expecting the Blue Devils to win a big-time home game is like expecting a dog not to bark—it’s certainly possible, you just can’t bank on it happening. And in theory, this isn’t all that big of a game given North Carolina’s 1-7 record. But it’s a rivalry game and anything is possible. Duke looks to be a 9.5-point favorite and unfortunately, this is a good team, not a great one, meaning it won’t cover the spread. But the Blue Devils pull it out and carry some momentum into Clemson next week.
Winston Lindqwister: Duke 28-14
Although it’s hard not to be pessimistic about this team at times, the Blue Devils are fundamentally solid and have one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC. Unfortunately, they’ve also been saddled with consistently bad luck all season. On paper, this should be an easy win for Duke, as the Tar Heels have been struggling all season. However, the Blue Devils should heed a fair warning against North Carolina. Three of the Tar Heels’ seven losses came within one touchdown, and they also took down Coastal Division leader Pittsburgh. Duke will be in for a fight, but I can see the Blue Devils rising to the occasion.
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Ben Feder: 4-5
Derek Saul: 5-4
Michael Model: 4-5
Mitchell Gladstone: 6-3
Winston Lindqwister: 5-4