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Beats' picks: Will Duke take care of business against North Carolina A&T?

<p>Deon Jackson ran all over Virginia Tech's run defense.</p>

Deon Jackson ran all over Virginia Tech's run defense.

Prior to each Duke football game, The Chronicle’s Evan Kolin, Ramona Naseri, Derek Saul, Shane Smith and Dilan Trivedi 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 A&T Saturday:

Game predictions:

Evan Kolin: Duke 38-6

North Carolina A&T has been a force in the FCS over the last couple of seasons, but with Lamar Raynard gone the team’s offense just isn’t the same. The Aggies are really going to struggle to put points on the board against Duke’s impressive defensive unit, and Quentin Harris, Deon Jackson and company will do just enough to cover the 27.5-point spread.

Ramona Naseri: Duke 34-7

After last week’s blowout against Alabama, Duke is ready to show off its offensive arsenal with Jackson and Harris as key weapons. Although North Carolina A&T pulled off a clutch win against Elon last weekend, it’s a stretch to say that the Phoenix compare to the Blue Devils.   

Derek Saul: Duke 31-7

Don’t confuse this North Carolina A&T team with the Blue Devils’ typical in-state FCS opponent, North Carolina Central—the Aggies dismantled the Eagles 45-0 in the teams’ 2018 matchup. Though I expect North Carolina A&T to cover and hang around, Duke’s superior athleticism and swarming secondary will ultimately prevail.

Shane Smith: Duke 34-10

As impressive as North Carolina A&T has been over the last few years, they are in the process of replacing record-breaking quarterback Raynard and struggled to put away Elon last week. The Duke offense will look to stretch the field early in the game and the Blue Devil defense will easily take care of business against the Aggies. Sure it’s not North Carolina Central, but Duke will still easily overmatch their FCS opponent.

Dilan Trivedi: Duke 31-6

Duke’s defensive unit showed its prowess in the first half against Alabama, holding the Crimson Tide scoreless in the opening quarter and limiting the No. 2 team in the country to a pair of touchdowns at the break. Although Alabama’s athleticism eventually broke through, I don’t see the visitors finding paydirt this weekend. The Aggies are certainly an upgrade over the Blue Devils’ traditional home opener—North Carolina Central—a game that Duke has averaged over 54 points per game over the last four years. With a weaker offense still looking for its first touchdown of the season, I don’t expect the Blue Devils to rack up the score too high. 

Overall results:

Evan Kolin: 1-0

Ramona Naseri: 1-0

Derek Saul: 1-0

Shane Smith: 1-0

Dilan Trivedi: 1-0


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