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Beats' picks: Can Duke take down Charlotte in its lone nonconference matchup?

<p>Defensive end Chris Rumph II will look to feast against a weak Charlotte offensive line.</p>

Defensive end Chris Rumph II will look to feast against a weak Charlotte offensive line.

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 Charlotte, which pits Duke as a 10-point favorite.

Evan Kolin: Duke 35-14

I'm expecting an easy win Saturday evening. While Blue Devil quarterback Chase Brice has certainly struggled with his accuracy and decision-making throughout the season, he's also had to work against constant pressure game in and game out. Against Charlotte, that shouldn't be much of an issue, with the 49ers totaling a mere three sacks in their four games this season. Duke should get out to an early lead through the air, with Mataeo Durant and Deon Jackson putting in the finishing touches on the ground.

Shane Smith: Duke: 24-16

I had high hopes that the Blue Devils could gain some momentum after the Syracuse win, but things just seem too bleak in 2020 for Duke. Charlotte has strung together a couple wins of recent, but you can’t pick against the ACC talent Duke has. I don’t expect the Blue Devils to put up 40 points like it normally would against non-Power 5 competition, though Brice and the offense should bring enough to capitalize on a second win.

Jake Piazza: Duke 34-17

This one’s not even a question. The Blue Devils haven’t had the season they’ve wanted, but they will beat up on Charlotte in a much-needed confidence booster before they return to ACC play. Through 2018 and 2019, Cutcliffe posted a 2-1 record coming off bye weeks and Charlotte’s allowed 10 sacks in just four games, a stat line that you can bet Chris Rumph II and Victor Dimukeje will take full advantage of.

Max Rego: Duke 38-17

Coming off a bye, the Blue Devils will look to take care of the football and get into a rhythm offensively. While Charlotte has won two straight and scores over 30 points per contest, Duke presents a far superior challenge in terms of defensive talent. I expect the Blue Devils to come away with their second victory of 2020.

Cam Polo: Duke 30-20

Maybe this won’t quite be the statement win that the Blue Devils need to get their season back on track, but they should at least be able to get their feet under them Saturday night at Wallace Wade. Look for the rushing attack to have a big game, and the defense to get just enough stops to keep it a two-score contest throughout. Duke will come out with some fire, needing this one to salvage anything from the season, and it'll take care of business.

Overall results:

Evan Kolin: 3-3

Shane Smith: 3-3

Jake Piazza: 6-0

Max Rego: 3-3

Cam Polo: 4-2

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