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Beats' picks: Will Duke football or Virginia prevail in ACC Coastal showdown?

<p>It will be a battle in the trenches Saturday.</p>

It will be a battle in the trenches Saturday.

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 Virginia Saturday:

Evan Kolin: Duke 24-21

After a heartbreaking loss to Pittsburgh two weeks ago, Duke has its second chance at a big-time ACC Coastal win. It’ll be a defensive battle, but Quentin Harris and company will do just enough to escape Charlottesville, Va., with the victory

Ramona Naseri: Duke 24-17

This is a tough matchup for Duke, but the Blue Devils' solid defense will lead to a victory. Virginia has the worst turnover margin in the ACC and if Duke can get some easy scores off giveaways, a victory will be all but guaranteed.

Derek Saul: Virginia 27-20

The Cavaliers and Blue Devils have a near identical resume and this contest will come down to how Harris responds to his hardest test since Alabama. Virginia ranks in the top five in sacks per game and top 30 in passing yards per game. If Duke's signal caller can't get anything going on offense—or, worse, commits multiple turnovers—the Cavaliers will emerge in ACC Coastal pole position.

Shane Smith: Virginia 34-27

Duke has struggled a lot with Virginia in recent memory thanks to poor offensive line play and defensive failures and, while the Blue Devils have improved a lot in those areas, the Cavaliers will still come out on top. I believe Bryce Perkins is the second-best quarterback in the ACC and his elusiveness leads his team this afternoon.

Dilan Trivedi: Duke 27-23

The Cavaliers are entering the game coming off two straight losses, including an ugly 17-9 defeat in Miami last Friday. Although I expect Virginia to play much better, Duke’s far more superior offensive and defensive line—led by Victor Dimukeje who has five sacks in his last two games—will win the battle in the trenches and result in a close Blue Devil victory on the road.

Overall results:

Evan Kolin: 5-1

Ramona Naseri: 6-0

Derek Saul: 5-1

Shane Smith: 4-2

Dilan Trivedi: 5-1

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