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Beats' picks: Will Duke football continue its winning ways against N.C. State?

The battle between Duke's defensive line and N.C. State's offensive line will be key Saturday.
The battle between Duke's defensive line and N.C. State's offensive line will be key Saturday.

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’ road matchup at N.C. State, which pits the Wolfpack as a five-point favorite.

Evan Kolin: Duke 35-31

Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic for the Blue Devils, but I think last week's win will prove to be the turning point in Duke's 2020 season. Against a brutally-depleted N.C. State secondary, quarterback Chase Brice will post his best performance of the year thus far, with the Blue Devils' stable of running backs building off their momentum from last Saturday. The X-factor will be the battle in the trenches, with Duke's elite pass rush matching up against a Wolfpack offensive line that has done a terrific job of protecting the quarterback.

Shane Smith: Duke 31-25

For the first time since last October, the Blue Devils have a chance to put together a small winning streak. The Wolfpack offense has been rolling of late, but with Duke’s running game keeping the defense fresh, I expect the Blue Devils to stack up well against quarterback Devin Leary and company in Carter-Finley Stadium. Ultimately, whoever wins the turnover battle should come out on top, and I’ll side with David Cutcliffe and his success against N.C. State.

Jake Piazza: N.C. State 27-24

This is going to be a very competitive matchup, but I can’t pick against N.C. State when looking at their resume for this year. The Wolfpack are coming off two quality wins against Pittsburgh and Virginia, and it is unlikely that Duke can dominate on the ground to the extent it did last week. Leary is going to pick on the Blue Devils’ depleted secondary all game and ultimately lead N.C. State to victory.

Max Rego: Duke 38-35

This is the pick I've had the most trouble deciding on so far this season. In what is likely to be a high-scoring affair, Duke should be able to establish the run, as N.C. State allows 159.3 yards per game on the ground. The Wolfpack also fail to force many turnovers, which bodes well for a Blue Devil offensive unit that has made a habit of coughing up the football. While Leary will likely be able to exploit Duke’s still-inexperienced corners, I think the Blue Devils will be able to control the tempo and keep the ball out of Leary's hands.

Cam Polo: Duke 35- 30


That’s right, I said it. I know, the Wolfpack looked great against Virginia, a team that the Blue Devils didn’t put up much of a showing against. Yes, they took care of Pittsburgh as well. But Duke has finally picked up some steam, even if just a wisp. I don’t expect much defense in this matchup, but I expect the Blue Devil faithful to see the team's rushing attack driving them down the field for a second straight week.

Overall results:

Evan Kolin: 3-2

Shane Smith: 3-2

Jake Piazza: 5-0

Max Rego: 3-2

Cam Polo: 4-1

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