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Beats' picks: Can Duke football pull off the season-opening shocker at Notre Dame?

Preventing Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book from running wild like he did last year will be key if Duke hopes to pull off the upset.
Preventing Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book from running wild like he did last year will be key if Duke hopes to pull off the upset.

Prior to each Duke football game, beat writers Evan Kolin, Shane Smith, Jake Piazza, Max Rego and Cam Polo will 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 Notre Dame Saturday, which has the Fighting Irish as a 20-point favorite:

Evan Kolin: Notre Dame 31-24

This 20-point line is just disrespectful. I'm expecting the Blue Devils to keep it pretty close through the first three quarters, with their new David Cutcliffe-led offense firing on all cylinders and deep secondary keeping the Fighting Irish's young pass-catchers at bay. In the end, though, Notre Dame's surplus of talent will win out, and Duke will open its season in the loss column for the second consecutive year.

Shane Smith: Notre Dame 34-24

Duke fans should be excited to see a new-look offense under Chase Brice and David Cutcliffe, which I expect to put up a surprising amount of points against the Fighting Irish. However, with so many uncertainties causing a different kind of season opener, I’ll default to the team who many expect to compete for a College Football Playoff spot, though the Blue Devils should cover the 20-point spread.

Jake Piazza: Notre Dame 38-20

This game isn’t going to be the blowout that most are predicting, but the Fighting Irish are going to take care of business on their home turf. Ian Book is too talented and their defense is too experienced to lose to a Blue Devil team that just named its starting quarterback less than a week ago. Simply put, Duke is just far too inexperienced to knock off this Notre Dame squad.

Max Rego: Notre Dame 31-21

I think there’s a formula out there for Duke to come away with a victory in South Bend, Ind. The Blue Devils will need to gash Notre Dame in the run game, so look for Deon Jackson to get many opportunities early and often. At the end of the day, however, the Fighting Irish present the best offensive line that Duke will face all season, which will give Ian Book a couple extra seconds to go through his progressions. While it’ll be a battle from the opening kickoff, I expect Notre Dame to wrap it up late.

Cam Polo: Notre Dame 34-17

While the Fighting Irish may struggle out of the gate given their roster turnover, the talent edges they possess at key positions will prove too much for the Blue Devils. Chase Brice and the offense will get on the board and make things interesting, but don’t be expecting a 2016 repeat here.

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